Our response to the Conservative manifesto

The pledge of a further £8 billion by 2022/23 does not get us to a long term funding settlement to support the principles of a comprehensive National Health Service.

Press Release

Published: 18/05/2017

“We welcome this manifesto’s commitment to the principles of a comprehensive National Health Service. But the pledge of a further £8 billion by 2022/23, above 2017/18 spending, does not get us to a long term funding settlement to support this. It is unclear how much new money this represents, or exactly when it would come onstream. We do not yet know whether promises of upgrades for buildings and IT will be backed by new spending: the pledge does not apply to the £13.5bn of health funding not held by NHS England.

“Even under a generous interpretation of what will happen to these other budgets, the share of Britain’s national income going to the NHS will continue to shrink, from 7.3% to 7%. The same is the case for the other parties’ proposals as well: we are on course for more than a decade of unprecedented austerity. [see note 2]

Even under a generous interpretation of what will happen to these other budgets, the share of Britain’s national income going to the NHS will continue to shrink, from 7.3% to 7%. The same is the case for the other parties’ proposals as well: we are on course for more than a decade of unprecedented austerity.

Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust

“The approach to new legislation for the NHS is sensible: no plans for another big reorganisation while remaining open to changing provisions like the internal market if they are getting in the way.

“The manifesto is right to focus on the NHS workforce as a pressing issue, and the intention to allow NHS staff from the EU to stay in Britain is vital. However, this must be accompanied by a plan to allow continued migration after 2019 or to replace these workers.

Our social care system is underfunded and people face a lottery where a minority are hit with disproportionately high costs. Unfortunately, the proposals in this manifesto will do nothing to solve these problems. This is not a long term solution, and the next Government will have to continue to look for one.

Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust

“Our social care system is underfunded and people face a lottery where a minority are hit with disproportionately high costs. Unfortunately, the proposals in this manifesto will do nothing to solve these problems. This is not a long term solution, and the next Government will have to continue to look for one.”

Notes to editors
  • At the 2015 Spending Review, an £8 billion funding increase for NHS England was funded by cuts to other health budgets like public health and NHS infrastructure. It is not clear from the Conservative’s pledge whether this will again be the case. Even assuming that it is all additional funding, our calculations show it will mean that the NHS in England will receive a lower share of the UK’s Gross Domestic Product in five years’ time than it does today.
  • Using the same measure as the Conservative Party manifesto, Labour’s recent plans imply that spending in 2022/23 will be £11.6bn higher in real terms, and £8.5bn higher under manifesto pledges from the Liberal Democrats. These imply a fall from 7.3% of GDP on NHS spending to 7.2% under Labour’s plans, or to 7.1% under the Liberal Democrats’.