Conservative and Labour health announcements at party conference
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Cameron’s speech in Birmingham this morning contained a few announcements for the NHS, the biggest of which was that a Conservative government would protect the NHS budget for the next Parliament. Other announcements from the Conservative Party conference this week have been:
Similarly, last week Labour announced an extra spending commitment of £2.5billion for the NHS, entitled the ‘Time to Care Fund.’ Labour has said this extra funding will be raised through a tax on properties worth over 2m, a windfall levy on tobacco companies and closing tax avoidance loopholes. However, health analysts, such as the Nuffield Trust, the NHS Confederation and the Kings Fund – who have all been calling for greater honesty from all political leaders – have warned that a commitment not to cut NHS spending, or even to increase spending by £2.5bn annually, does not address the scale of the pressures on the health service.
The Labour Shadow Health Secretary, The Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP, announced last week that health and social care budgets will be pooled into a single budget. However, there is still little detail about how these services will be brought together and how this can be done without another reorganisation of the NHS, something that Burnham has categorically said will not happen. Similarly, Labour are still pledging to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012, but they have not yet gone into finer details about which parts of the Act will be repealed.
With the Liberal Democrat conference this weekend in Glasgow, we can expect more funding announcements for the NHS and further discussion on how to address the challenges facing the NHS’s growing deficit. What is clear is that the NHS is most certainly going to remain at the heart of the 2015 election campaigns for all three parties.