The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Parties offer NHS general election sweeteners

Plans for new GP contract, pay rises and NHS cash boost

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 19 May 2017

The three main political parties have offered incentives to win the support of the medical profession in their general election manifestos.

The Conservative party's election manifesto published on 18 May promises to introduce a new GP contract to help develop wider primary care services as well as reforming the contract for hospital consultants.

The Tories ambition for England to be the first nation in the world to provide a 'truly seven-day healthcare service' would begin with primary care, said the document. They plan to expand the current 17m people who already could get routine weekend or evening GP appointments to the whole population by 2019 — a year sooner than promised in its previous manifesto.

'We expect GPs to come together to provide greater access, more innovative services, share data and offer better facilities, while ensuring care remains personal — particularly for older and more vulnerable people — with named GPs accountable for individual patients,' says the document.

Better technology would help GPs to deliver innovative services, they argue. There would be funding for GPs to meet rising costs of indemnity in the short term while working with the profession to introduce a sustainable long-term solution.

Overall, the Tories promise to increase NHS spending by a minimum of £8bn in real terms over the next five years.

The Labour Party’s manifesto published on 16 May also promises more investment in the NHS, saying it would commit to more than £30bn in extra funding over the next Parliament through increasing income tax for the highest 5% of earners and by increasing tax on private medical insurance.

As well as dropping the current NHS pay cap, Labour also promises to put pay decisions back into the hands of the independent pay review body, legislate to ensure safe staffing levels in the NHS, and guarantee the access to treatment within 18 weeks target as well as the target for patients to be seen in A&E within four hours.

Labour said it would work towards a new model of community care that took into account not only primary care but also social care and mental health.

'We will increase funding to GP services to ensure patients can access the care they need,' says the manifesto.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto published on 17 May promises to end the public sector pay freeze for NHS staff and says it would put a penny in the pound on income tax to give the NHS and social care services a cash injection of £6bn additional revenue, ring-fenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services.

The Liberal Democrats say they believe that GPs had been put under 'considerable strain' due to severe underfunding and neglect from the Conservative government.

'GPs are the core of what the NHS is and they need support to ensure that the NHS is able to survive and thrive,' says the manifesto, which promises the party would produce a national workforce strategy, ensuring the UK never again had a shortage in the numbers of GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and other professionals needed in the NHS.

The Liberal Democrats also say they would promote easier access to GPs, expanding evening and weekend opening, encourage online, phone and Skype appointments, encourage GPs to work together in federations, and provide national support to struggling GP practices to prevent practice closures.

Responding to the publication of the Conservative party’s manifesto, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: 'The Conservatives have been in power for the last seven years, yet this manifesto will do nothing to reassure patients and NHS staff that they have the vision the NHS needs or will deliver the funding to ensure its survival.

'The extra £8bn touted in this manifesto for the NHS is smoke and mirrors — rather than extra money, this essentially extends the funding already promised in the 2015 spending review for another two years and falls far short of what is needed.'

Commenting on the Labour Party’s manifesto, Dr Porter said: 'The NHS is at breaking point, so the promise of any additional investment is certainly a welcome move.

'Scrapping the pay cap will also likely be popular among our members. While many of the measures in this manifesto sound promising, if the NHS is to survive under any government, it needs long-term, credible and sustainable plans to deliver the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.'

As for the Liberal Democrat’s plans, Dr Porter commented: 'There is a good focus on improving mental health services in this manifesto. Doctors have repeatedly raised concerns about the state of mental health services and the need to improve the outcomes for their patients suffering with mental health problems.

'There is an important acknowledgement of how staff shortages affect the delivery of safe, high-quality patient care, particularly in general practice which is experiencing a workforce crisis.

'We should be cautious, however, of the plans to extend GP opening hours without first providing the necessary doctors and funding.'

Banner for OnMedica Courses & Cases
NHS Guide
Wilmington Healthcare Limited, 6-14 Underwood Street, London, England, N1 7JQ
Registered in England and Wales, Reg No. 2530185
Twitter Facebook
A Wilmington Company