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How could the results of the general election affect healthcare in the UK?

Since the announcement of a ‘snap’ election by Theresa May in April 2017, Britain has been in the midst of political debate, with both Labour and the Conservatives campaigning against each other to win more support from the British public1. Around 70% of the electorate flocked to the polling stations to cast their vote, the highest turnout in 25 years2! After votes were counted across the country the results were in, with neither party winning a majority and resulted in a hung parliament with both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats loosing seats to Labour. 

What is a hung parliament?

“When a general election results in no single political party winning an overall majority in the House of Commons, this is known as a situation of no overall control, or a 'hung Parliament'.” - Parliament, 2017

What happens next?

As the leader of the party with the most seats in parliament, Theresa May will remain at number 10, with the opportunity to form a government. This can take two forms:

“One option is a formal coalition with other parties, in which the coalition partners share ministerial jobs and push through a shared agenda.”

“The other possibility is a more informal arrangement, known as “confidence and supply”, in which the smaller parties agree to support the main legislation, such as a budget and Queen’s speech put forward by the largest party, but do not formally take part in government.” - The Guardian, 2017

May announced that she intends to form a government to "provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country."5

What’s next in terms of healthcare?

It is still uncertain in terms of how our government will be formed whilst negotiations between May and the DUP carry on.

But we are able to get an idea of how the election result will affect healthcare in the UK by taking a look at the Conservatives’ 2017 manifesto …

In their manifesto they have said: “We are able to commit to increasing NHS spending in England in real terms by a minimum of £8bn over the next five years.” - The Guardian, 2017

According to health economist for the Guardian, Adam Roberts there are two ways that this statement can be interpreted both of which will affect the NHS differently. 

Budget interpretation:

“The first interpretation is that the NHS budget in 2020-21 will be £8bn higher than it is now after accounting for inflation – regardless of what happens in other years. This would mean that the total extra money available to the NHS across the five years will be more than £8bn. For example, if we assume that the funding increases steadily, total additional money would be £24bn.”6

Cumulative interpretation:

“The second interpretation is that the NHS will receive an additional £8bn in total, to be spread over the next five years. Let’s call this the ‘cumulative interpretation’. In this case, again assuming the increases are spread equally, the NHS budget in 2020-21 would be £2.7bn higher than it is now.” 6

Depending on which of these interpretations are correct, either way the budget for healthcare will increase by 8 billion or 2.7 billion, meaning that the total increase during the 5 year period will be 24 billion or 8 billion.    

What will this mean for the NHS?

According to a Nuffield Trust think tank they believe that the 8 billion pledged by the conservatives won’t be enough to sustain the NHS and falls short of the sums recommended by the Office for Budget Responsibility…

“None of the political parties’ promises matches even the lowest projections of what funding should be. Spending as a proportion of GDP looks set to fall slightly whichever party forms the next government, unless additional funds can be found.” – Professor John Appleby, chief economist and director of research at the Nuffield Trust

If the funding isn’t enough this could lead to deteriorating standards of care within the NHS and longer waiting times.

Did you know that with health insurance you can benefit from reduced waiting times as well as a high standard of care?

Find out more about what benefits private medical insurance can offer.

Sources:

  1. Telegraph - Theresa May announces snap general election on June 8 to 'make a success of Brexit'
  2. Telegraph - General election sees highest turnout in 25 years, as nearly 70% of Britons vote
  3. Parliament – Hung Parliament
  4. The Guardian - What is a hung parliament and what happens now?
  5. BBC News - Election Results 2017 summary: Key points at-a-glance
  6. The Guardian - NHS funding: what does the £8bn spending increase actually mean?
  7. The Guardian – NHS funding pledges by major parties would still fall short, experts say
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