New report finds Government struggling to deliver on half its healthcare manifesto commitments

New report finds Government struggling to deliver on half its healthcare manifesto commitments

  • New report from health policy research centre Future Health finds that the Conservatives will only meet 40% of their 2019 health manifesto pledges
  • Targets on recruiting more GPs, building new hospitals and tackling public health are all set to be missed

A new report from health policy research centre Future Health, The Conservatives and the NHS: the end of parking the bus?, finds that over half of the 2019 Conservative manifesto targets on the NHS and healthcare will be missed by the time of the next election.

The document – Conservative Manifesto Pledges FINAL – has been covered in the Guardian here

Whilst the Conservatives have met headline pledges of increasing NHS funding and are on track to deliver 50,000 more nurses, the report finds that in a number of important areas they will fall short. The research finds that:


  • 25% of the manifesto pledges will not be met. This includes headline measures such as recruiting more GPs, providing 50 million more GP appointments and building 40 new hospitals
  • Another 25% will only be met partially. This includes measures on mental health where legislation has been drafted but is being reviewed and on vaccination where despite the success of the Covid vaccine programme, take-up of other vaccination programmes has fallen widely
  • 40% of the targets will be met. This includes increasing NHS funding, recruiting more nurses and more non GP primary care professionals


On the remaining 10% of commitments it is unclear on the level of progress made.


Core NHS performance meanwhile continues to deteriorate with elective waiting lists rising to 7.7 million and long waits of over 12 hours in A&E increasingly normal.


Primary care is identified as a particular concern with targets for both 6,000 more GPs and 50 million more GP appointments not set to be delivered. It has been estimated that 38 million people are waiting over two weeks to see a GP[1].


On public health, the report argues that action has not met the ambitions of the manifesto for a clear health inequalities strategy and criticises continued delays on bringing forward important anti-obesity measures.


The report argues that while there is no doubt that operations and services were cancelled because of the pandemic, it is ‘a mistake to lay the blame for the state of the service completely at Covid’s door’.


Instead the report argues that the failure to deliver on the manifesto promises is a symptom of a wider political and policy strategy which has played well for 13 years but that is no longer viable. This strategy has seen NHS revenue budgets protected whilst cuts have been made to public health, social care, capital and workforce budgets. The research concludes that the ability for the Conservatives to neutralise health as an electoral issue as they have done in the past, by ‘parking the NHS bus’, and as was done so successfully during the Brexit referendum, is no longer possible.


Richard Sloggett, report author, Founder and Programme Director at Future Health said: “This report shows that the Government won’t meet the majority of its 2019 health manifesto commitments. The question for Conservatives to ask is why? Yes the pandemic has derailed certain elements. But more fundamentally the failure to deliver is based on the coming to an end of what has been a successful political strategy of protecting the NHS, but at the expense of its supporting budgets. Cuts to public health, social care and capital spending have sent demand soaring into a system without the resilience or tools to properly cope and adapt.”


“The response from some Conservatives to this situation in the past has been to question the overall NHS funding model, claim it is unsustainable, push other systems such as health insurance and measures such as charging for appointments. We know how such proposals end, they end in continued electoral defeat and years of Opposition. There is no public appetite to change the fundamentals of the NHS.”

“Instead the party would be better to try an approach that focuses on improved population wellbeing, using new technology to improve earlier diagnosis, moving care closer to home and reducing levels of working age sickness. One that invests more in primary care, embraces improving public health through strong leadership and creates a more sustainable and dynamic social care system.”


“At the 2024 election the Conservatives will need a new strategy for health and a new approach to policy. They will no longer be able to park the NHS bus.”