What the next general election could mean for the health and care sector 

Someone casting a vote by putting paper in ballot box

By Skills for Health | 28 June 2024

The 2024 general election is a significant milestone that will influence the direction of health and care policy over the next five years. 

For those working in the healthcare sector, understanding how the election is likely to impact their roles is crucial. 

What do I need to know about the election?  

The general election process in the UK is well-established and follows a set timetable. The Prime Minister announced that the next general election will take place on 4 July 2024 – the day that polling stations will be open.  

There is a choice of several candidates in each constituency. Some will be the local candidates standing for national political parties. The candidate that receives the most votes becomes their MP (UK Parliament, 2024). 

The party with the largest number of elected MPs will then form the next government. 

What are political manifestos?  

Each political party will have a manifesto that outlines their aims and objectives for the next Parliament. Manifestos are issued by the political parties prior to an election, setting out the  policies that the party stands for and would wish to implement if elected to govern (UK Parliament, 2024).  

Areas relevant to the health and care sector.  

  • Social care reform 
  • Access to hospital care  
  • Access to primary and community health care 
  • Access to dentistry 
  • Funding for the NHS and social care 
  • Workforce recruitment and training 
  • Support for healthcare staff (NHS and social care)  
  • Prevention, inequalities and public health 
  • Increased focus on mental health, learning disabilities and autism 
  • Maternity services and women’s health 
  • Medicines, research and life sciences 

What are the potential impacts on the health and care sector?  

Funding and budgets 

One of the most critical areas influenced by the election outcome is the allocation of funding to the NHS and social care services. Different political parties have varied approaches to healthcare funding. Some may propose increased spending to improve services and reduce waiting times, while others might focus on efficiency savings and budgetary restraint.  

It’s helpful for healthcare professionals to stay informed about these proposals, as they directly impact resource availability and operational capacity. 

Workforce and staffing 

The healthcare sector faces ongoing challenges related to staffing, including shortages of doctors, nurses, and care workers. The outcome of a general election may lead to new policies aimed at recruitment, training, and retention of healthcare professionals.  

Proposals could include incentives for training, changes to immigration policies affecting overseas healthcare workers, and measures to improve working conditions for example. The stability and morale of the workforce are directly tied to these political decisions. 

Regulation and reform 

Regulatory changes or reform arising from the election could shape various aspects of healthcare delivery. This includes potential reforms in healthcare governance, integration of health and social care, and the adoption of new technologies and practices. Each party’s manifesto will provide insights into their planned health policies, which can be pivotal for strategic planning within the sector. 

Patient care and services 

Ultimately, the goal of any healthcare policy is to enhance patient care. Election results can lead to changes in service delivery models, patient access to care, and the introduction of new patient-centric initiatives.  

Healthcare organisations such as royal colleges or trade unions often provide resources and updates on how political changes may affect their teams, organisation and operations. Engaging with professional bodies, attending relevant discussions, and accessing reliable information sources will also help understand potential impacts. 

For more information on the general election, visit the UK Parliament’s general election page 


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