Election Manifestos 2019 - Side-by-Side Policy Comparisons: Health and NHS

We’ve taken a look through the three manifestos, pulled out the key policies affecting Health and Care, including the NHS and pharmaceutical companies, and provided our take on who comes out on top; for comprehensive fact checking, please see fullfact.org.

As would be expected, all three of the main parties include substantial policies relating to healthcare and the NHS, and although some policies have been very quickly debunked, the most beneficial and realistic (yet admittedly ambitious) of the three is laid out by Labour, with a disappointing lack of attention to mental health support from the Conservative manifesto.


NHS management

NHS Management

Madano analysis An increase in investment (financially and physically) is definitely overdue for the NHS, and all three parties are reflecting this in their policies, however there are significant differences in how to go about this. The Lib Dems might actually take the title for most ambitious policies in NHS management, but come in last for achievability. So far, the only plan ‘fully costed’ with regards to healthcare is Labour, with the backing of economists and academics as achievable, and if implemented, could have long-lasting benefits for the NHS. Of course, the big question on everyone’s lips is whether the NHS forms part of a US trade deal if handled by the Conservatives, with all three parties claiming to be against privatising the NHS. However, with a number of the Conservative policies already debunked (see ‘40’ new hospitals), and questions on the feasibility of some Labour and Liberal Democrat policies, the follow-through on these pledges remains to be seen.

Impact on the pharmaceutical industry

Impact on the pharmaceutical industry

Madano analysis Labour and the Conservatives policies have greater impact in this area than Lib Dems, with agreement that more UK-based research is needed. The Tories’ focus on faster access to drugs could help fast-track molecules from lab to clinical practice, however, clinical trials often need investigation over a lengthy period of time to demonstrate proper effectiveness. Labour takes a firmer stance that, should initial pricing discussions fall through, there could be consequences for pharmaceutical companies in the form of competitor generic products, which could deter companies from approaching the UK as a priority market. Both Labour and the Lib Dems want to raise corporation tax, to differing amounts, though both are still ‘mid-range’ for EU tax rates.

Services and patient care

Patient care

Madano analysis Nothing revolutionary from the Conservatives here - “keep on keeping on” as well as reversing a few cost-cutting policies that were brought in by the Conservative Government in the last 9 years. Labour and the Lib Dems have the most extensive policies to improve a wide variety of personal experiences for patients, primarily aimed at addressing inequalities and improving access for all. Questions will abound about the feasibility of implementing all of these policies, but the firm stance taken by both to improve abortion services, along with increasing access for LGBT+ community, are policies notably lacking from the Conservative manifesto.

Mental health

Mental health policies

Madano analysis Once again, a section neglected by the Conservatives, with Labour and the Lib Dems proposing similar policies. This area is in dire need of investment, so it would have been good to see this reflected in all three main party manifestos. Labour’s policies again seeming the most achievable yet ambitious, and it would be good to see the parties working together to improve things nationally, regardless of election outcome.

Staffing

NHS Staffing policies

Madano analysis Conservatives are the only party to commit to a specific number of new GPs and nurses, but a closer look at the manifesto reveals that these numbers may not be quite what they appear. The breakdown outlines the 50,000 nurses includes 18,500 ‘retained’ (and therefore not additional nurses) and 12,500 recruited from abroad. The Nuffield Trust also stated that the 6,000 additional GPs may not be sufficient to cover the rising population. All three parties highlight the return of bursaries for nursing students, though differing in approach to this, and all seem to agree that the NHS is currently understaffed and it's good to see efforts to address this from all.

Carbon neutrality in healthcare

carbon neutral NHS

Madano analysis Labour stand alone for specific policies on healthcare specific carbon neutrality, but check out part 1 of the manifesto reviews for a full analysis on environment.