Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, responded to the publication of the Conservative Party’s manifesto.
‘Following on from Labour’s wide-ranging vision for reforming the NHS, the Conservative Party’s election prescription offers a mixture of incremental change and practical initiatives to improve services for patients.
‘The commitment to find the £8 billion a year called for in the NHS five year forward view is welcome, though questions should continue to be asked about how it will be funded. Even with this extra funding, the NHS will still need to deliver herculean productivity improvements – this is the minimum requirement if the NHS is to continue to meet patient needs and maintain standards of care.
‘With social care services under huge pressure, it is essential that increased spending on the NHS does not come at the expense of further cuts to social care budgets. While commitments to pool budgets and integrate services locally are welcome, the manifesto is silent about the unprecedented challenges facing social care.
‘The arguments in favour of extending seven-day services have been well made by health service leaders as well as politicians. Significant challenges will need to be overcome to ensure sufficient hospital consultants and other staff are available at weekends, and it will cost money. A seven-day NHS is the right ambition but delivering it by 2020 will be a tall order.’