The country goes to the polls.
Health and social care election tracker
How are health and care issues shaping the political landscape as we head towards the 2017 general election?
May backs £10 billion capital investment for NHS
Speaking in a BBC interview, Theresa May commits to £10 billion in capital investment to fund the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge to deliver ‘the most ambitious programme of investment in buildings and technology the NHS has ever seen’.
May adds that her Party is ‘backing the proposals in the Naylor report’ – a reference to Sir Robert Naylor’s review of NHS property and estates, published in April. The review identified a capital funding requirement of £10 billion to deliver the service changes set out in the NHS five year forward view and upgrade maintain NHS buildings.
The £10 billion of capital investment is separate from the manifesto pledge to increase NHS spending by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years. It is not clear how much of it would be additional public funding – the Naylor review indicated that much of the investment could would come from property sales and private capital, as well as the public purse.
Green Party manifesto pledges to scrap all charges for NHS services
The Greens launch their manifesto with a commitment to making all health and dental services free at the point of use.
On funding, they promise to ‘close the NHS spending gap’ and provide ‘major investment’ in social care, as well as bringing both services together into a single budget.
They also pledge to scrap sustainability and transformation plans and ‘roll back privatisation of the NHS’.
On mental health, the Greens promise to ensure people experiencing mental health crises are treated close to their home.
Theresa May reverses manifesto position on capping care costs
Just four days after launching her party’s manifesto, Theresa May announces that a future Conservative government would introduce an ‘absolute limit’ on people’s liability for care costs.
The unprecedented move follows heavy criticism of the proposals unveiled in the Conservative manifesto, which did not mention a cap on care costs – originally proposed by the Dilnot Commission and included in the Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto – arguing that this would mainly be of benefit to a small number of wealthier people.
The Prime Minister denies a U-turn on the original policy, explaining that the cap would be included in a proposed Green Paper on social care. Asked what level the cap would be set at, Ms May states that this will be a matter for consultation.
The NHS will be as important as Brexit in influencing how people vote
The NHS will be as important as Brexit in influencing how people vote according to Ipsos Mori's latest polling. 43 per cent of respondents identified the NHS as one of the issues that will matter most to them in deciding how they will vote, with 42 per cent saying Brexit. This follows polling published earlier in the month which placed the NHS alongside Brexit at the top of the list of voters' concerns. 48 per cent of respondents identified the NHS as one of the most important issues facing Britain today, the same proportion as Brexit.
Labour promise extra £37 billion for NHS
Labour pledge to spend an extra £37 billion on the NHS over the course of the next parliament. This will include £10 billion in capital funding.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the Today programme the ‘substantial amount of the money [needed to fund this] will come from increasing the tax take from those earning about £80,000’.
It says the extra funding would guarantee people would be referred to treatment in hospital within 18 weeks and not spend any longer than four hours waiting in A&E.
The proposals would also see a new target to tackle delays in discharging people from hospitals, a one-hour guarantee for the most urgent patients in A&E, and a more ambitious target for cancer referrals.
Liberal Democrats set out plans for mental health care
The Lib Dems announce proposals to improve mental health care. Health spokesperson Norman Lamb says the party is ‘committed to ending the historic injustice against people with mental ill-health’.
The pledges include:
waiting time standards for mental health care
provision for new mothers and people with eating
schools to promote good mental health through training teachers and better
access to counselling
out-of-area placements for acute patients
by the end of 2018
employers to promote staff wellbeing.
The changes would be funded by ring-fencing £1 billion of the additional £6 billion the party plans to commit to health care.
This follows the Conservative Party’s recent announcement of its mental health plans.
Labour manifesto leaked
A draft copy of the Labour manifesto is leaked to the media.
The draft includes proposals to spend more than £6 billion extra per year on the NHS, and £8 billion extra for social care over the whole parliament.
Other policies include reinstating the Secretary of State’s responsibility for the NHS and setting up a new body to oversee and scrutinise health spending. It also proposes guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens working in health and care services.
The leaked version is not yet finalised, as it was due to be agreed at today’s meeting of Labour’s national executive committee and the Shadow Cabinet.
Greens announce mental health pledges
The Greens announce three pledges aimed at improving the way we approach mental health.
They want to give mental health parity of esteem with physical health; ensure access to psychological therapy within 28 days of being referred; and introduce a new schools-based therapy to address mental health issues earlier.
Lib Dems say PrEP should be made available on the NHS
Norman Lamb, health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, says they would make pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – a drug which helps prevent the spread of HIV – available on the English NHS to high-risk groups.
While PrEP has been approved for use in Scotland, it is not currently available on the NHS in England. National bodies are undertaking a three-year clinical trial to understand how it can be most effectively rolled out.
The King’s Fund recently published a report on the future of HIV services in England. This called for national bodies to work as quickly as possible to progress from the trial to an implementation plan for PrEP because although the incidence of HIV has fallen overall, it is increasing among some groups.
Labour plan pre-watershed junk food advertising ban
Labour set out proposals that they say will halve the childhood obesity rate within 10 years.
Most headlines focus on Labour’s proposal to ban television advertising of unhealthy foods before 9pm. This sort of advertising is already not allowed from children’s programmes, but Labour’s proposal would extend this to other programmes not specifically aimed at children.
This follows a Health Committee report in March that concluded: ‘The advertising regulators have not sufficiently addressed the scale of the challenge. They could – and should – go further.’
Labour would end NHS parking charges
Labour promise to end NHS parking charges, saying they will fund the pledge by increasing the rate of Insurance Premium Tax for private health care insurance products.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn describes parking charges as ‘a tax on serious illness’, suggesting they place ‘an unfair and unnecessary burden on families, patients and NHS staff’.
It is not the first time Labour have targeted hospital parking. In his 2009 conference speech, then Health Secretary Andy Burnham committed to phasing out parking charges for inpatients, though the policy was not included in Labour’s 2010 manifesto.
Conservatives call for Mental Health Act to be replaced
The Conservatives announce proposals to replace the Mental Health Act 1983.
They want to end ‘unnecessary detention’ of people with mental health problems, and to give new rights to employees who experience mental health issues.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tells The Andrew Marr Show: ‘We want to stop the fact that you can lose your job for that and suffer discrimination in a way that you would not be able to suffer now if you were disabled, [or had] other conditions.’
This follows Theresa May’s first speech on domestic policy earlier this year, when she said she wants to ‘transform the way we deal with mental health problems right across society’.
Lib Dems pledge 1p on income tax to fund health and care
The Lib Dems propose increasing income tax by 1p in the £1 to raise more money for the NHS and social care.
The Lib Dems say the proposal, reminiscent of the party’s 1997 election pledge to raise income tax by 1p to increase education funding, would raise an extra £6 billion.
‘This is an average of £3 a week for the average earner in this country,’ says Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, ‘so a pint of beer a week to pay for a health and social care service that will last us from cradle to grave.’
The proposal is part of a five-step plan on the NHS and social care that includes establishing a cross-party health and care convention and introducing an independent body to monitor and report on health and care budgets.
Greens pledge ‘walking and cycling revolution’
The Greens propose investing £2 billion in cycle lanes and walking routes.
Their announcement focuses on the environment, but improvements to non-motorised transport are also widely seen as important for public health.
Lamb reveals plans for general practice
In an interview with Pulse, health spokesperson Norman Lamb sets out how the Lib Dems would drop plans to enforce routine seven-day GP appointments across England and increase funding for general practice.
Mr Lamb said a Lib Dem government
would allow GP practices to decide the best way of extending access to
Ashworth calls for moratorium on STPs
Labour call for a moratorium on the NHS’s sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), as well a full review of proposals to change hospital services.
Under the proposal, a new body called NHS Excellence would lead the review, with patients and local communities closely involved.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth says: ‘Threats of hospitals being closed, A&E services moved miles up the road, and children’s wards being shut have caused widespread concern and confusion.’
Government ‘must publish’ air pollution plan
The High Court orders the government to publish its plan for tackling air pollution.
The government had argued the plan should be delayed because of the general election, but the High Court decision means it must now be published by 9 May.
With nitrogen dioxide responsible for an estimated 23,500 early deaths a year, Mr Justice Garnham says: ‘Immediate publication is essential.’
Party leaders trade blows at PMQs
The final Prime Minister’s Questions before the election sees Jeremy Corbyn highlight increases in waiting times and delayed discharges from hospital, a result, he says, of Conservative policies.
Theresa May responds by saying that the NHS is treating more patients than ever before, has more doctors and nurses, and is receiving record levels of funding.
Labour pledge NHS pay increases
Labour promise pay increases for NHS staff, with a proposal to end the 1 per cent cap on salary increases.
In a speech to Unison’s conference, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth also commits to making safe-staffing levels a legal requirement and to reintroducing bursaries for health-related degrees.
May calls a general election
Prime Minister Theresa May shocks political commentators by unexpectedly announcing plans for a general election on 8 June. Making the announcement in Downing Street, Mrs May focuses heavily on Brexit as the reason for the need for an election, and does not mention health or social care.
Shortly afterwards, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he welcomes the chance for a general election, making it a virtual certainty that the Conservatives will get the two-thirds majority they need for an election.