UK General Election 2019 – what are the main parties promising for the NHS and child health?

The RCPCH is politically neutral and therefore not partial to any political party, during an election campaign or any other time. We do, however, pay close attention to the policy commitments made in each manifesto. These give us an indication of what we can expect to see from the next Government.

This summary was first published on 28 November 2019.
Last modified
21 January 2020

A note on devolved nations

This analysis examines the pledges regarding the NHS and child health in the manifestos of the main political parties in England. As health itself is a devolved matter, the pledges of the main parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be considered in the run up to elections for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly in 2021 and the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2022.

However, some parties in the devolved nations have included their pledges for health in other publications, which you can access below.



Northern Ireland

Conservative General Election Manifesto 2019

‘Get Brexit Done; Unleash Britain’s Potential’ (PDF)

If elected, the Conservative Party has pledged to enshrine the NHS Long Term Plan into law within their first three months of office. 

On workforce, they have pledged to provide extra funding to allow more nurses to be recruited from overseas, alongside providing funding for retraining existing nurses and recruiting. They are also introducing maintenance grants of £5,000 to £8,000 annually to help recruit new nursing staff.

The Conservatives have also pledged to make 50 million more GP appointments available a year by increasing the number of GPs by 6,000.

The Conservative Party has also pledged to hold an urgent review on the pensions taper tax within their first 30 days of office if they are elected to govern on 12 December.

If elected, the Conservatives will introduce an NHS visa to ‘fast track’ visa applications form doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

The Conservatives have pledged to roll out a national vaccination strategy, expand the National Academy of Social Prescribing and introduce a long term strategy for empowering those with lifestyle-related conditions, such as obesity, to live healthier lives. 

The Conservative Party has pledged that they will ensure science research funding meet their 2.4% target of GDP being spent on research and development. The current Cancer Drugs Fund would be extended into a wider Innovative Medicines Fund. 

More broadly for children and young people, the Conservatives have pledged £500 million for youth services, a review of the care system and improvement of the Troubled Families programme. They will also introduce a National Strategy for Disabled People. 

Labour General Election Manifesto 2019

‘It’s Time for Real Change’

Regarding workforce, the Labour Party has pledged to develop a model of joined-up community care to build interdisciplinary patient-focused service across primary care, mental health and social care. They will also expand GP training places to provide resources for a further 27 million more GP appointments annually. They have also pledged to reinstate the nursing bursary, and train and recruit a further 3,500 counsellors to ensure every child is guaranteed access to a school counsellor. They pledge 4,500 school nurses and health visitors will be recruited.

In addition, the Labour Party has pledged to review tax and pension changes and amend them to ensure the health workforce is fairly rewarded. 

The Labour Party will produce a children’s health strategy to target health inequalities if they are elected on 12 December. Alongside this, a cross-governmental national strategy for childhood will focus on health, security and poverty. A Labour Government would enshrine a Future Generations Wellbeing Act into law that would enshrine the concept of a health in all policies approach, giving NHS agencies a duty to collaborate with directors of public health across the country.

The Labour Party has pledged to extend the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, ban fast-food resteraunts near schools, and enforce stricter rules around junk food advertising.

If elected on 12 December, the Labour Party would abolish prescription charges, invest £1 billion in public health services, roll out a £845 million Healthy Young Minds Plan and provide free annual dental check-ups. More broadly, they have pledged to establish a National Youth Service.

Liberal Democrat General Election Manifesto 2019

‘Stop Brexit, Build a Brighter Future’

On workforce, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to support local multidisciplinary health and care services, and reinstate nursing bursaries for specialism where recruitments problems are the most acute, like mental health nursing. They have also said they will listen and act on the pensions crisis that is driving away the most experienced clinicians. The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to end the GP shortfall by 2025 by training more GPs alongside making greater use of nurses and allied health professionals where appropriate.

If they are elected to govern on 12 December, the Liberal Democrats will ensure every new mother gets a dedicated postnatal appointment with a health visitor, as part of a wider commitment to transforming perinatal mental health services. They will introduce ‘baby boxes’ to provide babies and parents with essential items to help with health and development. 

The Liberal Democrats would publish a National Wellbeing Strategy to put health at the heart of all Government policy, and pursue a health in all policies approach to policy making.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to develop a childhood obesity strategy that would restrict junk food marketing, close loopholes in the soft drinks industry levy and extend this levy to juice and milk-based drinks that are high in added sugar. They would also introduce a new levy on tobacco companies and legislate for the right to unpolluted air. 

In policies that we know impact on children’s health more broadly is it factual to say that we know these impact on , the Liberal Democrats have pledged to invest £1 billion a year in Children’s Centres and £500 million is ringfenced for youth services.

Green Party General Election Manifesto 2019

‘If Not Now, When?’ (PDF)

On workforce, the Green Party has pledged to reinstate the Secretary of State for Health’s duty to ensure there is enough health and care staff to meet population needs.

The Green Party has pledged funding for new community health centres and mental health services, and has pledged to ensure women are able to have the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and postnatal period. They have also pledged to update food standards to help tackle childhood obesity and provide a per child supplement for families with a household income of less than £50,000.

If elected to govern on 12 December, the Green Party would introduce a Minister for Future Generations and ensure all children receive the basic elements of a good childhood: a decent place to live, safety and security in their community, time and space to play and opportunities to learn and develop both inside and outside school. 

Brexit Party General Election Manifesto 2019

‘Contract With The People’ (PDF)

If elected to govern on 12 December, the Brexit Party has pledged to ensure that the NHS receives continued investment is established as a beacon of excellent care, and that investment in medical research is supported.