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King's Fund - General election 2024: the health and care manifesto pledges

This resource is intended as a summary of the commitments the three largest parties in England have made for the NHS, social care and public health in their manifestos, associated costing documents and media reports ahead of the general election on 4 July.

This resource does not attempt to analyse, fact check or provide a comprehensive digest of all the pledges, rather it is a summary of the policy and spending commitments that have been made.

Social care reform

Conservatives

  • From October 2025, implement planned reforms to cap the social care costs an individual is liable to pay.

Labour

  • Undertake a programme of reform to create a National Care Service.
  • New national standards for adult social care to ensure consistency of care across England, with a principle of ‘home first’.
  • Develop local partnership working between the NHS and social care sector on hospital discharge.
  • Task regulators with addressing the role social care workers can play in basic health treatment and monitoring.

Liberal Democrats

  • Introduce free personal care so that some aspects of a person’s care costs are covered by the state.
  • Create a National Care Agency to set national minimum standards of care.
  • Establish a cross-party commission to forge a long-term agreement on sustainable funding for social care.

Access to hospital care 

Conservatives

  • Return performance (eg, waiting times in A&E and for cancer treatment) to the levels set out in the NHS Constitution, by the end of the next parliament.

Labour

  • £1 billion pledged to provide 40,000 more appointments, operations and scans every week.
  • Return to meeting NHS performance standards, for example, the 18-week referral-to-treatment waiting time standard.
  • Use spare capacity in the independent health care sector to bring down waiting lists.

Liberal Democrats

  • 1,000 new hospital beds and investment for A&E departments, funded through an upfront capital investment of £280 million to expand urgent treatment centres and A&E departments, and an additional £400 million per year to staff the new hospital beds.
  • Publish accessible, localised reports of ambulance response times, reverse closures of community ambulance stations, and cancel planned closures where needed.

Access to primary and community health care 

Conservatives

  • Build 50 more community diagnostic centres.
  • Build or modernise 250 GP surgeries, focusing on areas with new housing growth.
  • Expand Pharmacy First (which enables people to refer themselves, or be referred by NHS 111, GPs and others, to pharmacies for minor illnesses or urgent repeat medicine supplies) to cover menopause support, contraception and treatment for chest infections.
  • Invest proportionately more in out-of-hospital services over time.

Labour

  • Train thousands more GPs and guarantee a face-to-face appointment for everyone that wants one.
  • Deliver a modern appointment-booking system.
  • Bring back ‘the family doctor’ by incentivising GPs to ensure people always see the same GP.
  • Create a ‘community pharmacist prescribing service’, granting more pharmacists independent prescribing rights where appropriate.
  • Allow other professionals, such as opticians, to make direct referrals to specialist services or tests, and expand self-referral routes where appropriate.
  • Trial ‘neighbourhood health centres’, bringing together existing community services such as family doctors, district nurses, care workers, physiotherapists, palliative care specialists and mental health specialists under one roof.
  • Move to a ‘neighbourhood health service’ with more care delivered in local communities, shifting resources to primary care and community services over time.

Liberal Democrats

  • Give everyone the legal right to see a GP within seven days, or 24 hours if in urgent need.
  • Give everyone over 70 and everyone with long-term health conditions access to a named GP.
  • Establish a 'strategic small surgeries fund’ to sustain services in rural and remote areas.
  • Introduce a universal 24/7 GP booking system.
  • Work towards a fairer and more sustainable long-term funding model for pharmacies.
  • Build on the Pharmacy First approach to give people more accessible routine services and ease the pressure on GPs.
  • Greater prescribing rights and public health advisory services will be given to qualified pharmacists, nurse practitioners and paramedics in order to free up more time for GPs.

Access to dentistry 

Conservatives

  • Provide 2.5 million more NHS dental appointments through the Dental Recovery Plan.
  • ‘Golden hellos’ to encourage dentists to work in rural and coastal communities plus new dental vans to take dentists and surgeries to isolated, under-served communities.

Labour

  • Reform the dental contract, with a shift to focusing on preventive care, and the retention of NHS dentists.
  • £125 million funding for a dentistry package that includes 700,000 urgent appointments every year, of which 100,000 would be for children.

Liberal Democrats

  • Guarantee access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent and emergency care
  • Bring dentists back to the NHS from the private sector by fixing the NHS dental contract and using flexible commissioning to meet patient needs.
  • Introduce an emergency scheme to guarantee access to free NHS dental check-ups for those already eligible: children, new mothers, those who are pregnant and those on low incomes.
  • Guarantee appointments for all those who need a dental check before commencing surgery, chemotherapy or transplant.

Additional NHS funding commitments 

Conservatives

  • Increase NHS spending above inflation in each year of the next parliament.
  • £1.7 billion a year by 2029/30 to fund the expansion of Pharmacy First, GP surgeries and community diagnostic centres and mental health services.

Labour

  • £1 billion to fund 40,000 more operations, scans and appointments every week.
  • £125 million dentistry package including 700,000 urgent appointments every year.
  • £410 million to recruit 8,500 new mental health staff.

Liberal Democrats

  • An extra £3.7 billion a year by 2028/29 in day-to-day NHS spending (which includes the funding to improve access to planned and emergency hospital care).

Capital investment in NHS buildings and equipment 

Conservatives

  • Continue with the plan to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030.

Labour

  • £250 million pledged for a ‘fit for the future’ fund to double the number of NHS CT and MRI scanners.
  • Deliver the new hospitals programme.

Liberal Democrats

  • Implement a 10-year plan to invest in hospitals and primary care estate.
  • £1.1 billion a year by 2028/29 to improve NHS buildings and equipment.

Social care funding 

Conservatives

  • At the next Spending Review, give local authorities a multi-year funding settlement to support social care.

Labour

  • Give local authorities multi-year funding settlements.

Liberal Democrats

  • Spend an extra £3.7 billion a year on social care.

Workforce recruitment and training  

Conservatives

  • Recruit more NHS staff, projecting 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors in the NHS (compared to 2023 numbers), by end of the next parliament, in line with the existing NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.
  • Reduce the number of managers in the NHS by 5,500, which Conservatives estimate will release £550 million for frontline services.

Labour

  • Recruit 8,500 new staff for mental health services.
  • Deliver the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.
  • Ensure the publication of regular, independent workforce planning across health and social care.
  • Establish a ‘fair pay agreement’ in social care – a collective agreement with the sector to set fair pay, terms and conditions.

Liberal Democrats

  • Increase the number of full-time equivalent GPs by 8,000, half by boosting recruitment and half from retaining more experienced GPs.
  • Encourage the use of flexible staff banks to reduce spending on agency workers.
  • Bring forward a social care workforce plan, with a focus on recruiting more staff to the sector.
  • Create a new carer’s minimum wage, boosting the minimum wage for care workers by £2 an hour, as a starting point for improved pay across the sector.
Original article link: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/insight-and-analysis/long-reads/health-care-manifesto-pledges-election-2024

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