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The NHS must work for all – our general election priorities

Sharon Brennan

In what is highly likely to be an election year, we at National Voices have launched our Manifesto for Equitable Healthcare. Sharon Brennan, Director of Policy and External Affairs discusses our manifesto asks in more detail.

  • Hospital waiting lists
  • Health inequalities
  • Communication and administration


At the end of last month, we were pleased to publish our Manifesto for Equitable Healthcare – which puts forth our general election priorities. All three of these priorities are supported by the common theme of ensuring that the NHS works for all, not just those who know how to navigate the system or who come from more privileged backgrounds. 

Our asks 

Our general election priorities were extensively co-produced with our members, 200 health and care charities covering a range of conditions and communities. This input was vital to ensure our manifesto is representative of what people across England need and want when it comes to their healthcare.  

Our proposed messaging was also tested at the Labour and Conservative party conferences in October last year to ensure they captured the interest of MPs. 

Our three asks are:

A navy background with purple, green, and light blue circles to the bottom left, and top right corners. Title text, in white, reads ‘National Voices’ Manifesto for Equitable Healthcare’.
In the centre are three rounded boxes, labelled 1 through 3. The first box reads ‘Pioneer a cross-government strategy to reduce the gap in healthy life expectancy’. The second, ‘Introduce a package of measures to reduce the health impact of the rising cost of living’. And the third, ‘Focus on getting the basics right’.
The National Voices logo is pictured in the bottom right corner.

You can read our asks, and our recommendations in full here


Our manifesto asks seek to remind politicians from all parties that adopting them will not just improve things for patients but will also help drive NHS stability and wider economic benefits.  

We were engaging with political parties ahead of the release of our manifesto, and have continued this activity since our launch at the end of January. The conversations we have had with advisors have been very productive.  Getting the basics right has landed well as it reflects current priorities around patient choice as well as ensuring the NHS is seen to be working well for all. The differences in responsibilities and line of sight between the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Integrated Care Systems has made some of this harder to land with MPs. This is something we are taking into consideration as we continue with conversations.  

It was great to see The Times Health Commission echo our manifesto call about increasing life expectancy over the next 10 years, but we specifically want to see the gap between different communities and demographics reduced so the nation doesn’t continue its journey in creating a more unjust society. As a reminder, the gap between women in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived is 19.7 years, for men it’s 18.4 years. 

Finally, we have been able to support other organisations with launching manifestos   that align with our principles. For example, our Chief Executive Jacob Lant spoke at the Royal College of GPs manifesto launch in the Houses of Parliament to support the message that patients in deprived communities must be better supported and provide better community care for all. NHS Confederation have recently published their priorities for the next government, and we especially welcome their fifth priority, which calls for a cross-government national mission for health improvement. This closely aligns with the first ask from our manifesto, ‘Pioneer a cross-government strategy to reduce the gap in healthy life expectancy.’ 

With the ongoing crisis in the NHS, we know the next government will face big challenges and hard choices, but we will continue to work hard behind the scenes this year to ensure that any future Government recognises that we at National Voices stand ready to support where appropriate. 

Our ask to you 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our members for all the time they invested in helping us to develop our manifesto. 

Please share these asks widely, especially with your local MP if possible, and engage with us on social media to ensure we reach as many people as possible and create a national conversation about equity in the NHS.