‘………..Discussion of the forthcoming UK general election is dominated by military language: battle lines have been drawn, salvoes have been fired, skirmishes are underway. So it seems appropriate to suggest that the political arms race over the NHS has now well and truly begun.
The campaign promises on the NHS we’ve heard so far – and doubtless also the promises we’ll hear between now and 7 May – essentially split into two categories. First are commitments about resources, ie pledges to either provide additional funding or make existing budgets go further by cutting perceived waste (NHS managers will be wearily familiar with this terrain). Second are commitments about setting priorities for how the NHS will use those resources, such as extending GP opening hours, speeding up cancer diagnostics, improving access to mental health services, and so on.
The basic purpose of that second set of commitments is essentially to convince the public that the political party making them has the right plan for the NHS. But recent polling suggests only 16% of the public generally trust the political class to tell the truth, whereas 90% of people trust doctors to do likewise. So why do politicians continue to compete over who has the right priorities for the NHS, if the public doesn’t really trust any of them? ………….’