Nigel Edwards responds to NHS and social care announcements in the Labour manifesto

Great to see commitment to comprehensive reform of England’s failing social care system but many questions are left unanswered.

Press release

Published: 21/11/2019

“It is great to see Labour commit to comprehensive reform of England’s failing social care system, including tackling workforce issues and support for carers. Increasing NHS funding and paying public sector staff more will mean that the health service can breathe a sigh of relief after a decade of austerity.[1] We were very pleased to see the party has picked up many of the measures we recommended with other think tanks to help fix the NHS staffing crisis, including money to support nursing students and retrain staff during their career.[2]

“But the manifesto also leaves many questions unanswered. 

“Reform of social care for all working-age adults, so often overlooked, needs to be an urgent priority not a vague ambition. We need more detail on what will and won’t be covered under free personal care for the elderly. A cap on lifetime care costs offers some certainty, but this depends on where it is set. At £100,000 it would not protect a large majority of people whose needs are more modest but who may still face substantial costs.

“It is unclear exactly what is planned to stop privatisation and how it will help. This policy raises many questions – for a start whether it involves nationalising GPs. Given so many private organisations provide surgery and mental health care, will scrapping them drive up waiting times? If the plan is to actually nationalise private health organisations, this will cost a large amount of money.

“Repealing the Health and Social Care Act raises worries too because it would spell one of the biggest reorganisations in the NHS’s history – the last thing the health service needs.”

Notes to editors

  1. Department of Health and Social Care accounts last year show £55billion was spent on staff – 5% of this would be £2.7billion, it would cost more if extra staff were nationalised from the private sector
  2. Closing the gap: Key areas for action on the health and care workforce – report by Nuffield Trust, The King’s Fund and Health Foundation
  3. We’ve analysed the facts about privatisation in the English NHS here
  4. Earlier this year Mark Dayan looked into whether the NHS will be the price of a US trade deal
  5. You can find our information pack of key facts and figures on the NHS and social care here: NHS and social care: Facts and figures for the 2019 general election
  6. You can read Labour’s manifesto here

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.

For queries or to arrange an interview please contact the Nuffield Trust press office on 0207 462 0555 / 0207 462 0538 or email /


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  • 24/11/2019