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The General Election: what are the differences on the NHS between the political parties?

As the nation is about to head to the polls in the General Election, you will be wondering what are the differences between the main political parties on the NHS.

Policing and Brexit have understandably dominated the agenda in the past week, but the following is a summary of the main manifesto pledges on health and social care.

The key Conservative pledges:

  • A minimum real-terms increase of £8 billion over the next five years and an increase in real funding per person for every year of the parliament.
  • Back sustainability and transformation plans, ‘providing they are clinically led and locally supported’.
  • If necessary, legislate to remove barriers to implementing the NHS five year forward view.
  • Carry out a review of the internal market.
  • Legislate for an independent health care safety investigations body.
  • Raise the asset threshold in the means test to £100,000 and include the value of the family home in the means test for home care.
  • Extend use of deferred payments to those receiving home care.
  • Means-test winter fuel payments, with money released going to health and social care.
  • Introduce an ‘absolute limit’ on an individual’s lifetime liability for care costs (pledge announced after the manifesto had been published).
  • Publish a Green Paper on social care to ‘address system-wide issues’ and ‘ensure the care system works better with the NHS’.
  • Recruit up to 10,000 more mental health professionals.
  • Replace the Mental Health Act with a new Mental Health Bill with the aim of bringing about ‘parity of esteem’ in the treatment of mental and physical health conditions and ending stigma.

The key Labour pledges:

  • More than £30 billion in extra funding over the parliament.
  • Boost capital funding.
  • Halt and review sustainability and transformation plans.
  • Create a new quality and safety regulator – NHS Excellence.
  • Repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to make the NHS the preferred provider and ‘reinstate’ the Secretary of State’s overall responsibility for the NHS.
  • Introduce a new legal duty to ensure private companies do not make excess profits from the NHS.
  • Commit an additional £8 billion to social care over the lifetime of next parliament (£1 billion in first year).
  • ‘Lay the foundations’ for a new ‘national care service’ to receive an additional £3 billion in each of its first years.
  • Ensure the ‘national care service’ is ‘built alongside the NHS’ with single commissioning and pooled budgets.
  • Seek cross-party consensus on how to fund the new national care service with options including wealth taxes, employer contributions and a new ‘social care levy’.
  • Introduce a cap on lifetime individual liability for care costs and increase the asset threshold in the means test.
  • Provide free end-of-life care.
  • Establish a new Office for Budget Responsibility-style body to oversee and scrutinise health spending.
  • Ring-fence mental health budgets and ensure funding reaches the front line.

The key Lib Dem pledges:

  • ‘A penny in the pound’ on Income Tax raising £6 billion, to be ring-fenced for NHS and social care.
  • Increase capital investment in hospitals.
  • Reform NHS payment systems by moving away from payments for activity to tariffs that promote joined-up care.
  • Move towards single place-based budgets for health and social care by 2020.
  • Implement a cap on lifetime individual liability for social care costs.
  • Introduce more choice at the end of life and move towards free end-of-life social care.
  • Introduce a dedicated health and care tax ’possibly based on’ reform of National Insurance.
  • Set up a cross-party convention to consider longer-term sustainability of health and social care.
  • Set a long-term objective to bring together the NHS and social care into a single service.
  • Ring-fence £1 billion of extra funding for mental health.
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