Election 2024: what might the upcoming election mean for the future of healthcare and health technology?

With the election fast approaching, we take a look at four of the major political parties with published manifestos, and what those manifestos mean for the future of healthcare and health technology.

The Labour party

The Labour party’s manifesto places cutting NHS waiting times one of six central commitments, with the party vowing to deliver “40,000 more appointments each week”, paid for by “cracking down” on tax avoidance and “non-dom loopholes”.

To achieve this boost in capacity, the party hopes to introduce incentives for NHS staff to work additional hours, to pool resources across neighbouring hospitals to introduce shared waiting lists, and to utilise “spare capacity in the independent sector” to diagnose and treat patients more quickly.

In terms of health tech, Labour’s reforms will reportedly aim to promote a shift away from “late diagnosis and treatment”, to a model which sees more services delivered in the community, harnessing the power of technologies such as AI to “transform the speed and accuracy of diagnostic services”, and ensuring that prevention is the focus of the entire health system.

Finally, Labour’s manifesto looks to modernise the NHS, with plans to introduce a new “Fit For the Future” fund, to deliver on the New Hospitals Programme, to develop an NHS innovation and adoption strategy, to deliver a modern appointment booking system to support primary care, and to transform the NHS App to allow patients more control over their health, appointments, medications, and needs.

To read the manifesto in full, please click here.

The Conservative Party

The Conservative party’s manifesto sets out plans to deliver “better health and social care”, looking at expanding Pharmacy First, modernising or building 250 GP surgeries, adding 50 new Community Diagnostic Centres, continuing to deliver on the Long-Term Workforce Plan, delivering 40 new hospitals by 2030, and investing more in out-of-hospital services.

In terms of health tech, the manifesto pledges to invest £3.4 billion in new technology to “transform the NHS for staff and for patients”, to implement a new medtech pathway to encourage innovation and rapid adoption of technologies including AI, to make the NHS App the “single front door for NHS services”, to use AI to free up clinician time, to replace outdated computer systems, and to fund technology to help clinicians process MRI and CT scans “more quickly and accurately”.

The party also hopes to roll out digital health checks to “250,000 more people every year”, to increase access to mental health services by expanding the coverage of mental health support teams from 50 percent to 100 percent of schools and colleges by 2030, and to boost capacity through initiatives such as NHS Talking Therapies and early support hubs for those aged 11-25.

To read the manifesto in full, please click here.

The Liberal Democrat party

The Liberal Democrat’s manifesto highlights the importance of making healthcare “accessible wherever and whenever it’s needed”, investing money now to save taxpayer’s money in the long-term, recruiting and retaining a “workforce for the future”, and investing in technology that “improves outcomes and saves money”.

The manifesto vows to give everyone the right to see a GP within seven days, or within 24 hours if urgently required, by providing 8,000 more GPs. It also commits to improving early access to mental health services, to building on the Pharmacy First approach to provide better access to routine services and ease pressure on GPs, and to tackle health inequalities by establishing a Health Creation Unit to focus on the nation’s health and increasing the Public Health Grant with extra funding set aside for areas struggling the most with health inequalities.

In terms of health tech, the Liberal Democrats plan to introduce a “universal 24/7 GP booking system”, to harness the benefits of new tech and digital tools for patients by ring-fencing budgets to enable adoption, to replacing “old, slow computers”, to requiring all IT systems used by the NHS to work with each other, to ensuring every health setting has electronic records, and to expanding virtual wards.

To read the manifesto in full, please click here.

The Green party

The Green party’s manifesto focuses on “building a fairer, healthier country”, increasing taxes on the super-rich to fund the NHS properly, reducing waiting lists, guaranteeing “rapid access” to a GP, boosting pay for NHS staff, and restoring council budgets for public health.

The manifesto makes the commitment to increase funding for primary care “targeted at areas of greatest need”, to reduce the administrative burden on GPs, to make a £2 billion capital investment in primary care over the next five years, to expand diagnostic capacity in the community, and to tackle staff retention by pushing for “an immediate and additional increase to the budgets for NHS staff costs”.

To read the manifesto in full, please click here.

For a recent HTN Now panel discussion, we were joined by experts from across the health system to talk about some of the most pressing challenges facing ICSs, including cyber security, demand management, patient flow, and the primary-secondary interface.

Elsewhere, the Scottish Government has announced an additional £3.6 million in funding for 2024/25 to support the Hospital at Home service for older people, bringing the total funding allocated to the initiative to more than £15 million since 2020.