Another year, another political campaign. Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap General Election may have been a surprise, but the next five weeks will likely follow a well-worn pattern seen in countless elections past and present. Political leaders and election candidates will vie for attention with a range of new (and many not-so-new) policy proposals, campaign slogans and media appearances. Manifestos will be published, speeches delivered, gaffes made.
For an organisation researching and developing policy in a complex, political and nuanced area like health care, an election campaign provides us with unique challenges. How do we communicate this complexity when already short attention spans are even shorter? How can we offer unbiased and independent analysis when the NHS is so politically charged? How do we respond to emerging policies that are light on detail and raise more questions than they answer?
Our response to these challenges is not to retreat from view and leave policy commentary to those wishing to shout loudest, regardless of expertise. Instead we will use this opportunity to bring facts, evidence and the knowledge of our health policy and research experts to the election debate.
Throughout the campaign we will be partnering with Full Fact to examine some of the major claims and counterclaims about the NHS. Through a series of short briefings, we will look at the evidence behind some of the most pressing issues facing health and social care – from the financial pressures on the health service, to the impact of Brexit on health care. We will liaise regularly with Full Fact to explore the parties’ proposals and assertions on health care, and will support their work fact-checking speeches and debates.
Our partnership with Full Fact will also be accompanied by our own work, providing access to clear and easily digestible facts, figures and charts on the NHS and social care, offering views and perspectives on election policies and pledges via traditional and social media, and drawing attention to the large body of evidence on health policy and practice. When the buzz of the election campaign fades, we will offer advice to the new Government on how best to steward the health and social care systems through some of the most challenging issues they have faced, based on our rigorous analysis and expertise.
Our General Election spotlight page will host a collection of our work over the next five weeks, so please check in regularly. And if you are a journalist looking for an independent expert on health and social care, do browse the profiles of our spokespeople below.
At the same time we will continue our core work in researching health care systems and performance, convening people within the health service to share best practice, and providing managers and policy-makers with evidence-based analysis of the NHS. So sign up to our weekly newsletter and follow us on Twitter for all the latest from the Nuffield Trust.
Merry L (2017) 'Facing the facts this election campaign'. Nuffield Trust comment, 3 May 2017. https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/news-item/facing-the-facts-this-election-campaign