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National Voices’ statement welcoming the new Labour government

National Voices are pleased to welcome Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour party as the new government.

  • Behind the Headlines
  • Our vision for improving patient experience of diagnosis
  • Communication and administration
  • Digital health and care
  • Hospital waiting lists
  • Health inequalities
  • Person-centred care
  • Primary care

Much of the Labour manifesto was ambitious in its plans for health and social care, not least in making hospital waiting lists one of five priorities across the whole government.

Proposals for a National Care Service are also a much needed acknowledgement of the challenges faced in social care, and we hope to see the Labour team use their record breaking election result to go further and faster to support those already struggling to get the support they need to live their lives.

In line with our own manifesto, we were encouraged to see Labour set a bold ambition around tackling health inequalities.

We welcome Labour’s commitment to tackle the social determinants of health, with a clear aim of halving the gap in healthy life expectancy between the richest and poorest regions.

In our Manifesto for Equitable Healthcare, we urged the next government to commit to a long-term, cross-departmental plan with clear milestones that prioritises the reduction of this gap. We also stressed that inequalities in health are not just driven by poverty but are also affected by age, ethnicity, disability, sexuality and gender. We look forward to working with the new administration to ensure policy solutions consider health inequalities in all its forms.

Similarly, any focus on reducing waiting lists must have at its centre a serious plan to do this equitably so we do not continue to see those facing the most severe health challenges also waiting the longest for treatment.

Tackling health inequalities is not only good for patients and communities, it is arguably the key to the sustainability of the NHS. Helping people to stay well, through equitable prevention, treatment, and care, benefits us all.

Jacob Lant, Chief Executive of National Voices

National Voices also urges Labour to build on other positive aspects of its manifesto:

  1. Labour’s ‘Fit For the Future’ fund to double the number of CT and MRI scanners is much needed, allowing the NHS to catch cancer and other conditions earlier, saving lives. We encourage a joined-up approach to diagnosis demonstrated through clear intentions to implement a ten-year Strategic Diagnostics Plan. Our vision for improving patient experience of diagnosis, outlines our recommendations to improve patients’ diagnosis experiences and support people to better manage their long-term conditions.
  2. Labour’s new Dentistry Rescue Plan, providing 700,000 more urgent dental appointments and recruiting new dentists to areas that need them most, is much needed. Among National Voices’ members we see the crystal-clear consequences of the challenges in dentistry. We encourage a stronger commitment to ensure dentistry remains a preventative service, and that patients who need dental check-ups to access other NHS treatment, such as a transplant or chemotherapy, are given priority access.
  3. Our own manifesto ask of the NHS to ‘Get the Basics Right’ is reflected through many of the plans of this new government, such as the creation of a Community Pharmacist Prescribing Service and improving GP access by ending the 8am scramble. We equally recognise Labour’s good intentions to bring back the family doctor, providing an opportunity for complex conditions to be dealt with effectively through continuity of care. To achieve this, we need a well-supported primary care workforce, and patients to be given choice and control over who they see, when and how.
  4. While we appreciate the policies outlined in the wider manifesto regarding the cost of living crisis, we urge the Labour party to bring in additional interim measures to support individuals with long-term conditions and/or disabilities whose health has been directly impacted by ongoing financial struggles. In our Manifesto for Equitable Healthcare we have defined clear steps to tackle this crisis.  
  5. In line with our work addressing inequalities in research, we welcome Labour’s intentions to make clinical trials more accessible, but are concerned about the focus on using the NHS App as the primary method to access opportunities. Current estimates suggest 8.5 million people lack basic digital skills, and 1.5 million people don’t have a smartphone, tablet or laptop, and would therefore find themselves at a disadvantage. The impact of digital exclusion must be grasped by Government.
  6. We called for the better gathering and use of data to help address health inequalities, and Labour has committed to this in specific areas, like in closing the Black and Asian maternal mortality gap. But we need much more widespread diverse data to identify explicit patient safety concerns such as these to prevent ongoing inequalities felt across the system.