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Long read

What have the parties pledged on health and care?

General election 2019


Ahead of the 2019 general election, we summarised the commitments the three main parties have made for the NHS, social care and public health.

These commitments come from their manifestos, associated costing documents, media reports and formal campaign announcements. This table does not attempt to analyse, fact check or provide a comprehensive digest of all the pledges, rather it is a summary of the policy and spending commitments that have been made.

What have they pledged on NHS funding?


  • £20.5 billion real-terms increase (cash terms £34 billion) between 2018/19 and 2023/24 for NHS England’s revenue budget.1

  • More funding to reduce hospital car parking fees; increase nurse recruitment, training and retention; increase the number of GP appointments.


  • An extra £26 billion in real terms (cash terms £40 billion) for day-to-day NHS spending from 2018/19 to 2023/24.

  • An annual average increase of 4.3 per cent in overall health spending covered by the Department of Health and Social Care’s budget2. This does not include the cost of abolishing prescription charges, dental fees, car parking charges or the 5 per cent public sector pay deal.

Liberal Democrats

  • An additional £7 billion per year of revenue spending on the NHS and social care funded by a 1p rise in Income Tax, which will be ringfenced3 . This will prioritise social care, workforce, mental health and prevention.

  • Establish an independent budget oversight body for health and care modelled on the Office for Budget Responsibility.

  • In the long term, introduce a health and care tax to bring together spending on both services into a single budget.

How much has been pledged for capital investment in NHS buildings and equipment?


  • £2.7 billion to build six new hospitals by 2025 plus seed funding of £100 million to develop proposals for a further 34 hospitals.1

  • Additional funding to build hospital car parks.


  • £15 billion of capital investment over the course of the parliament to bring capital spending up to the international average.

Liberal Democrats

  • A cash injection of £10 billion to NHS capital budgets.

What about adult social care funding?


  • An additional £1 billion per year to be split between children's and adult social care services.


  • An additional £10.8 billion per year by 2023/24.

Liberal Democrats

  • Social care is a stated spending priority, resource will come from the £7 billion per year commitment for health and care.

What about wider social care reform?


  • Build a cross-party consensus on long-term social care funding.


  • Build a 'national care service’ and introduce free personal care for over-65s, with a longer-term ambition to extend this to working-age adults.

  • Introduce a cap on the costs of care so that no one faces 'catastrophic costs'.

  • End 15-minute home care visits.

  • Increase public sector provision and move to 'ethical’ private sector provision.

  • Care workers in the home care sector to be paid for travel time between appointments.

Liberal Democrats

  • Establish a cross-party convention to agree a long-term funding model for health and social care.

  • Introduce a cap on the cost of care as a key starting point.

  • Move towards free end-of-life social care.

  • Create a professional body for care workers and introduce a requirement for professional regulation of all care home managers.

What are their plans for NHS reform?


  • Legislate to support the implementation of the NHS long-term plan within the first three months of forming a government.


  • Repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

  • End competitive tendering across the NHS.

  • Integrate care via public bodies and all services to be delivered ‘in-house’.

Liberal Democrats

  • Support NHS England's proposed changes to the Health and Social Care Act 2012 including ending the automatic retendering of services.

  • Move towards single place-based budgets for health and social care. Encourage emerging governance structures for integrated care systems to include local government and be accountable to them.

What are their plans for access to services?


  • Allocate additional funding for the NHS, which will go to frontline services 'to reduce waiting times'.

  • Study and consider the recommendations of the Powis review into waiting times, A&E performance and cancer survival rates.


  • Use funding increases 'to restore constitutional standards on waiting times and access'.1

  • Ensure mental health waiting time standards are enshrined in the NHS Constitution to put access on a par with physical health.

  • Call a moratorium on cutting the number of hospital beds.

Liberal Democrats

  • Introduce further mental health waiting time standards starting with services for children, people with eating disorders and severe and enduring conditions.

  • Set a target to address the disability mortality gap and improve access to screening services for disabled people.

What pledges have they made about mental health, learning disabilities and autism?


  • Pass legislation to give people with mental health conditions greater control over their treatment.

  • Treat mental health and physical health with the same urgency.

  • Allocate £74 million over three years for additional community care capacity for people with autism and learning disabilities.


  • Implement the recommendations in Mental Health Act review in full.

  • Spend £2 billion on modernising mental health facilities and end the use of inappropriate out-of-area placements.

  • Increase spending on eating disorder services and on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

  • Improve access to psychological services by providing a 24/7 crisis service.

Liberal Democrats

  • Implement the recommendations in Mental Health Act review in full.

  • Invest to modernise inpatient settings and close all assessment and treatment units for people with learning disabilities.

  • A wide range of other pledges including improved access to talking therapies, free prescriptions for those with mental health problems and postnatal mental health appointments for all new mothers.

What about primary and community care?


  • Recruit and retain 6,000 more doctors and trainees in general practice and 6,000 more primary care professionals like physiotherapists and pharmacists to increase the number of available appointments by 50 million a year by 2024/25.


  • Expand GP training places by 5,000 per year to provide 27 million more appointments each year.

Liberal Democrats

  • Train more GPs to end the current shortfall by 2025 and support more team-based working, including greater use of nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists.

What would they do for nurse recruitment and training?


  • Train, recruit and retain an additional 50,000 nurses by 2024/25.

  • Introduce a yearly maintenance grant of between £5,000 and £8,000 for student nurses depending on the region and discipline they are training in.


  • Allocate £1 billion to restore the training bursary for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

  • Recruit 4,500 more health visitors and school nurses.

Liberal Democrats

  • Introduce bursaries for student nurses who are doing specialist training in areas with staff shortages.

How are they promising to support staff?


  • Undertake an urgent review of NHS pensions issues.

  • Provide additional funding for CPD training and supportive hospital management to improve morale.


  • Conduct a review of the NHS pensions and tax scheme to ensure that staff are fairly rewarded for their work.

  • Enshrine Agenda for Change terms and conditions into law alongside safe staffing limits for all staff.

  • Allocate £1.6 billion for mental health support for NHS staff.

  • Deliver year-on-year above-inflation pay rises for public sector workers, starting with a 5 per cent increase in 2020.

Liberal Democrats

  • Commitment to 'listen and act' on the NHS pensions crisis.

  • Investing in the workforce is a priority area.

  • Produce a national workforce strategy matching number of training places to projected future demand.

  • Implement the recommendations of the Kline report on the lack of diversity in NHS senior management.

What are their pledges on international recruitment and migration?


  • Introduce a new NHS visa for qualified health professionals with a job offer from the NHS.

  • Increase the NHS surcharge paid by non-EEA nationals who use the health service and extend it to all EEA nationals after Brexit.

  • Recruit 12,000 nurses by 2024/25. This forms part of a wider commitment to increase the number of nurses by 50,000 in the same timeframe.


  • Remove any barriers to ethical international recruitment.

Liberal Democrats

  • Develop an ethical recruitment policy in line with the World Health Organization’s guidance.

What have they pledged on public health funding?


  • Invest in preventing diseases as well as curing them.


  • A £1 billion increase in spending on public health services.

Liberal Democrats

  • Reinstate funding cut by the previous government.

What about prevention, inequalities and public health?


  • Create a long-term strategy to 'empower people with lifestyle related conditions to live healthier lives'.

  • Promote uptake of vaccines via a national vaccination strategy.


  • Pursue a 'health in all policies approach' via a 'Wellbeing of Future Generations Act'.

  • Extend the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to milky drinks.

  • Ban fast-food outlets near schools and restrict junk food advertising.

  • Review the evidence around minimum unit pricing for alcohol and put health warning labels on alcohol.

  • Treat drug-related deaths, alcohol-related health problems and gambling addiction as public health problems.

  • Put in place a vaccination action plan to regain the UK’s measles-free status.

Liberal Democrats

  • Publish a national wellbeing strategy which puts wellbeing at the core of government decision-making and pursue a ‘health in all policies approach’.

  • Develop a strategy to tackle childhood obesity, including extending the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to juice and milk-based drinks.

  • Introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

  • Regulate to improve junk food labelling and advertising.

  • Implement wide range of other commitments including improving availability of NICE approved interventions, a new school wellbeing hour and a tobacco control plan.

What are their pledges on medicines and research?


  • Extend the Cancer Drugs Fund into the ‘Innovative Medicines Fund’.

  • Double investment in dementia research and speed up trials.


  • Establish a generic drug company.

  • Progress the clinically appropriate prescription of medical cannabis.

  • Provide PrEP for HIV prevention on the NHS.

Liberal Democrats

  • More clinical trials of cannabis for medicinal use.

  • Make PReP for HIV prevention available on the NHS.

Other pledges


  • Commit to making the NHS the best place in the world to give birth and extend healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035.

  • End hospital car parking charges for those ‘in the greatest need’ including staff working night shifts.


  • Introduce free prescriptions and annual dental check-ups for all.

  • Scrap hospital car parking charges for all.

  • Ensure the NHS becomes carbon neutral with an ‘NHS forest’ of one million trees.

Liberal Democrats

  • Move departmental lead on drugs policy to the Department for Health and Social Care.

  • Decriminalise abortion across the United Kingdom.