With a new Conservative government led by Boris Johnson, what lies ahead for the health and social care sector? Pre-election, the Conservative Party’s number one guarantee was “extra funding for the NHS”. Expectations are high as not only have the Conservatives pledged £34 billion per year in additional funding for the NHS, they have vowed to enshrine this spending pledge in law within the next three months.
The Conservatives have made a lot of promises about the changes they will make in the health and social care sector and have stipulated timescales for a few. In the area of social care, we should expect to see:
- urgent action to obtain a cross-party consensus on long-term reform of social care
- from April 2020, an extra £1 billion a year to improve social care
- over the next three years, £74 million allocated for additional capacity in community care settings for those with learning disabilities and autism.
In addition, the Conservative government will be prioritising finding a cure for dementia thereby doubling research funding as well as injecting £25 million to support end of life care.
According to the Conservative Party manifesto we should be expecting prompt action in the health care sector. Boris has promised to, within the first month of his new term, hold an urgent review of doctors’ pensions, working with the British Medical Association and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to solve the “taper problem” which causes doctors to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills.
The new government has set itself a goal to recruit 50,000 more nurses which will be aided by a £5,000 – £8,000 annual maintenance grant for student nurses. Furthermore, we are to expect an extra 50 million GP appointments a year created by the recruitment of 6,000 more general practice doctors and 6,000 more primary care doctors. This huge recruitment drive will be supported by a NHS visa scheme whereby qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals with a job offer from the NHS who have been trained to a recognised standard and who have good working English, will be offered fast-track entry, reduced visa fees and dedicated support to come to the UK with their families.
The Conservative Party have promised a lot of changes in hospitals over the next few years. We should see 40 new hospitals over the next 10 years, cancer diagnosis machines being upgraded across 78 hospital trusts to boost early diagnosis and funding being extended to enable use of the most advanced treatments for serious diseases. NHS screening will be overhauled, hospital food improved and hospital car park charges for disabled people and frequent outpatient attenders abolished.
In the run up to the election the Conservative Party was been far less vocal than other parties about how it would address the strain on the social care system. On funding the existing system, as noted, the government has pledged to extend its planned £1bn for 2020-21 in additional funding for social care – but this would cover both adults’ and children’s social care and both sectors are already deeply in deficit. It also listed as a priority for its first 100 days in office – between now and late March – the initiation of those cross-party talks on the long-term reform of adult social care.
With all the proposed changes, top of the sectors’ wish list is that long awaited reform of the social care system. The new government will be off to a positive start if the cross-party talks take place quickly as promised. The clock is ticking!