02 May


The ever-looming election is on its way and now is the time for our TV screens and newspapers to be flooded with political statements, for debates to be hand in parliament and homes, and for us the public to somehow find a clear answer amongst it, and it in time!

We are looking specifically at the policies of the popular parties and how their promises may affect the healthcare sector.

We want to pay close attention to the real knowledge and passions of the parties, and if those reflect helping the current crisis we face.

Labour have been extremely vocal already in their intentions to support the NHS and the Primary Care sector.

Jeremy Corbyn visited NHS hospitals last week to show his dedication and promised that their policy will include higher pay for NHS staff and no tuition fees for student nurses and midwives.

He went on to say this would elevate the current staffing issues and reinvigorate the workforce.

However, the Conservative approach is somewhat, different. Current Health Minister of the Conservatives Philip Dunne commented, “A strong NHS needs a strong economy. Only Theresa May and the Conservatives offer the strong and stable leadership we need to secure our growing economy and with it, funding for the NHS and its dedicated staff” [1]

However there are no plans present here on how they want to continue to build the economy. This seems to be an underlying issue with the Tories from Cameron’s recession issues. What remains are more cuts with the Tories which does not provide or leave a sense of passion. Alongside this, a response of a lot of funding has been promised before under the current party that has not yet been received.  Whereas Labour currently have plans and policies in place that can help the NHS.

They have already announced three guaranteed plans:

  • Scrapping the 1% pay cap in place this Parliament so that pay is increased to a “sustainable level” for all NHS staff
  • Reversing the end of bursaries and introduction of tuition fees planned for August for student nurses and midwives
  • Tougher rules on safe staffing levels in NHS settings

If bursaries are still given and tuition fees were reduced this would increase the attraction for students to become nurses and therefore increase the workforce. And by making the NHS staffing a priority means they are considering the voices of the workforce and working with them instead of against them.

Just last week Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard commented on our political situation in regards to Brexit, stating that, “politicians must not leave GP services ‘hanging in the balance’ while they focus on Brexit.” [2]

Whilst it looks like Labour is taking that into consideration by commenting on their plans, it seems our Conservatives and current party are doing the opposite. This week former GP Dr Phil Hammond believes the Tories are relaxed on the NHS issues because they believe they are going to win anyway. GP Online reported him saying;

“Citing a source ‘close to Jeremy Hunt’ Dr Hammond told the annual conference of Londonwide LMCs on Thursday: ‘They don’t believe that Labour is electable. They are very relaxed about the state of the NHS, very relaxed about the queues in casualty, waiting lists going up again, and the disaster in general practice, because they don’t believe Labour offers a credible opposition.’

Dr Hammond said the Conservative government viewed the NHS as ‘a service for poorer people’ and wanted those who can afford it to take out private medical insurance…He added: ‘Ultimately this will make all GPs salaried and working for large accountable care organisation in a particular area.” [3]

Whilst this isn’t a direct comment from the Conservatives it is telling that they would not respond to Comment on this. And we could argue that perhaps the lack of comments from their new promises and policies nearing this election is due to the assumptive attitude that they believe they will remain, therefore do not have to have ready answers for the public to these questions.

To summarise it would seem that Labour is putting the NHS and our healthcare crisis at the heart of its election campaign. Conservatives however do not want to invest in workforce, but instead privatise so that individual partners source solutions. As Dr Hammond put it, this would mean that GPs would be salaried. Whilst this would perhaps create continuity of care and security for GPs being a long term role, it may deter the profession if the salary is to decrease and GP and Nurses voices remain unheard.



[1] BBC News. (2017). General election 2017: Labour promises pay rises for NHS staff – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39711133 [Accessed 2 May 2017].

[2] Gponline.com. (2017). Put GP workforce before Brexit, RCGP tells parties | GPonline. [online] Available at: http://www.gponline.com/put-gp-workforce-brexit-rcgp-tells-parties/article/1431539 [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017].

[3] Gponline.com. (2017). Tories ‘relaxed’ about NHS crisis because they think election is won | GPonline. [online] Available at: http://www.gponline.com/tories-relaxed-nhs-crisis-think-election-won/article/1431867 [Accessed 2 May 2017].

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