What does the election result mean for health?

Key health figures hold their seats, and the medical profession faces uncertainty

After a night of shocks and defeats for a number of high profile political faces, it is now fast becoming clear that the Conservatives are on course to win a majority. For those of us working in the health sector, all eyes will be set on what happens to the key MPs with an interest in health, and the new faces we should be watching out for.

The headlines are:

  • Jeremy Hunt, Norman Lamb and Andy Burnham all kept their seats
  • Health Select Committee Chair Sarah Wollaston MP was re-elected with an increased majority
  • Nearly all the other Health Select Committee members were re-elected, pending Andrew George in St Ives which at time of writing has still to declare

A number of new MPs with a strong interest in health have also been elected to parliament. Among these are:

  • Dr Tania Mathias (Con, Twickenham), a practising doctor, who beat former Business Secretary Vince Cable
  • Karin Smith (Lab, Bristol South), as predicted and profiled previously on The Debate
  • Kit Malthouse (Con, North West Hampshire), with his background in social care and record of campaigning on dementia
  • Nusrat Ghani (Con, Wealden), a former staffer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer
  • Lucy Allan (Con, Telford), with her record of involvement in local health bodies

Commentators are already pointing out how in the final days of the campaign, health and the NHS, slipped out of the spotlight. Many point out the NHS wasn’t the hot topic of the campaign that it looked at the start, and wonder if this heralds a return to the Conservatives mantra of ‘no more changes’ after the perilous Health and Social Care Act.

What is clear is that Simon Stevens will almost undoubtedly get the green light on his Five Year Forward View, given the endorsement this has already received from the Conservative front bench. The Conservatives have committed to giving the NHS an additional £8bn real terms increase in funding by 2020, as NHS England said was needed. However, they have yet to set out how this will be paid for.

As to therapy areas, dementia and cancer are both areas the Conservatives have called out, and despite cut backs in the Cancer Drugs Fund, there is a pledge in the Conservative manifesto to continue to invest in the Fund.

Although doctors classically vote for the Conservative party, many are concerned about the impact of the party’s commitment to 7-day universal access to GP services by 2020, on their working lives. Meanwhile, the wider medical profession has lost out in campaigning terms, unable to call in Labour on their promise of 20,000 new nurses and to working with the Pay Review Bodies.