Conservative manifesto has ambitious NHS pledges, but lack of plan for social care will undermine them

Nigel Edwards responds to the health and social care announcements in the Conservatives' 2019 manifesto.

Press release

Published: 24/11/2019

Responding to the Conservative Party manifesto for the 2019 General Election, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said:

"This manifesto contains some ambitious pledges on the NHS, but its failure to address social care threatens to undermine them.

"We're very glad to see grants for nursing students brought back, and this should make a long term impact in attracting urgently needed staff. It would be great to increase nursing numbers by 50,000, but targets like this have been missed repeatedly in the past. We don't see any way to get this many more nurses without a surge in migration beyond even what is assumed. Although the full details aren't yet available, we worry the points based system may be a deterrent.

"The extra money for NHS England as pledged previously will make a real difference. The parties are now almost neck and neck on funding for the health service. But I was bitterly disappointed to see yet more unnecessary delay on social care, without even a policy proposal as a starting point for serious reform. There is already a cross party consensus that action must be taken, and we don't need more contemplation of options that are perfectly clear: we need action. Sadly it looks as though despite the Prime Minister's pledges, vulnerable people will still be going without help or facing catastrophic costs for months and years to come."

Notes to editors

  1. The Conservative Party manifesto can be read here
  2. Our report Closing the Gap with the King's Fund and Health Foundation recommended restoring grants to nursing students to help solve the staffing crisis. However, it warned the gap could not be reduced to a 5% vacancy rate by 2023/24 without additional migration of 5,000 a year
  3. The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.


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  • 24/11/2019