Leading health figures voice grave concerns over major party promises on NHS

Share this article
0
Have your say

Two leading public health sector officials have voiced grave concerns over how the major parties have campaigned on the NHS, describing their promises as misleading or impossible.

Politicians had ducked the big issues in regard to health and social care according to Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, the hospitals' membership group.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have promised above-inflation increases to spending on frontline care.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have promised above-inflation increases to spending on frontline care.

And Royal College of Physicians president professor Andrew Goddard said manifesto promises on the NHS were not "physically possible" because of a lack of people in training to fulfil them.

• READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Boris Johnson is biggest threat to Scotland's NHS
The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have promised above-inflation increases to spending on frontline care.

Labour has pledged to boost nurse numbers by 24,000. The Tories have promised 50,000 nurses, though this would include current staff.

Writing in The Times, Mr Hopson said politicians had failed to offer "credible answers" to the NHS's toughest challenges, and said the funding commitments were disappointing.

"In reality, they go no further than restoring NHS funding growth to what they've been in past," Mr Hopson said.

"But it's not just about money. Whilst we are pleased that parties are committing to increase staff numbers, it's still not clear how that will actually happen.

"The offers from the main parties have varied in scope and ambition, but none has developed a compelling worked-through and credibly funded long-term solution."

• READ MORE: Voters more concerned about NHS than Brexit, says Jeremy Corbyn
Mr Hopson said there was a "worrying mismatch" between what the major parties were promising and what their pledged funding would actually buy.

"Bandying about large-sounding increases, based on five-year aggregate numbers, and saying 'all will be well' is raising unrealistic expectations that the NHS will inevitably disappoint," he said.

Prof Goddard warned patients in hospital should get used to seeing their doctors less as the health service reached "crunch point".

He told The Independent he was frustrated "by the proposed policies and promises" by Labour and the Tories and their "relationship to reality and what actually is deliverable".

The East Midlands gastroenterologist also said all three major parties had failed to address the looming workforce crisis among NHS doctors.

He said both main parties had used the NHS as a political football, and added: "It's really hard. In my life I have voted for all three main political parties.

"I currently have internal conflicts on which way I will vote, there is no easy choice.

"None of the parties has thought about the long-term problems facing us.

"The promises that have been made in the manifestos are not physically possible because we don't have enough people training to fulfil those promises.

"We need to think about where we want to be in 15 years' time and plan for it now."

The Labour Party's proposals to train 5,000 more GPs would mean fewer doctors training in psychiatry, or emergency medicine, Prof Goddard warned.

But the Tories' plan to have 6,000 more GPs by 2024 was not feasible without "flooding" the trainee system with overseas doctors, he added.

Currently, the NHS pays around £1.5 billion to train around 7,250 doctors a year, but Prof Goddard said this needed to double to about 15,000 a year, at a cost in excess of £3 billion.