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What does a Conservative Government mean for the NHS?

A group of doctors in scrubs (Image from Unsplash)

How will the National Health Service be affected, now that the Tories are in power?

In the early hours of Friday 13 December, it was announced that the electorate had voted for a majority Conservative Government. 

With 365 seats, the Conservative party had well surpassed the 326 seat target needed to hold a majority government. 

This result has many people speculating about what this will mean for the UK’s National Health Service. 

In his Prime Minister’s victory speech on 13 December, Johnson stated:

“I’ve heard it loud and clear from every corner of the country that the overwhelming priority of the British people now, is that we should focus above all on the NHS, that simple and beautiful idea that represents the best of our country. With the biggest ever cash boost, 50,000 more nurses, 40 new hospitals.”

This promise from Johnson was attempting to reassure the British public, following concerns about the future of the NHS under a Conservative Government. 

During the election campaign, there was speculation that the NHS would become privatised under a Tory Government.

This lead to #RIPNHS trending on twitter soon after the Conservative party won the election. 

On twitter, comparisons were made to other former Tory Prime Minister’s who also promised that: British Gas, British Rail and Royal Mail were also not for sale. 

On Friday 13 December, a Conservative MP, Damian Green, spoke on the radio show LBC about an insurance based system to pay for healthcare in the UK, as opposed to taxation that currently operates.

Green stated: “you can try some kind of insurance system so that those who can afford to take out an insurance policy should be encouraged to do so.”

This statement alarmed many listeners, and immediate comparisons were made to the expensive, insurance based health care system used in the US. 

Infographic showing NHS manifesto promises (By Laura Harman)

However, this statement from Green is not a reflection of the manifesto promises released by the Conservative party. 

The Conservative manifesto made various promises about improvements to the NHS and stated: “one condition we do make is that nobody needing care should be forced to sell their home to pay for it.” 

In this election, healthcare in the UK was a main point of contention. Most party manifestos made promises to improve the NHS.

The National Health Service’s monthly report for its November 2019 performance, shows that the NHS is underperforming nationally. Some critics such as Denis Campbell, a health policy editor at the Guardian, claim that the NHS is “on its knees.”

Statistics from the report show that “hospitals were 95 percent full, far beyond the 85 percent that doctors consider safe.”

It was also found that there were “88,923 patients waiting more than four hours from decision to admit to admission” this figure is 63.4 percent higher than the figure found from the previous November data.

These figures are alarming. If manifesto promises are upheld, improvements should be made to the issues currently faced by the NHS.