British Queen celebrates


A report released on Thursday reveals that election promises made by both Britain's governing Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party fail to address

the National Health Service's (NHS) looming £38 billion ($48 billion) funding shortfall in England.

With the national election on July 4 approaching, the performance of the state-run NHS is a key voter concern, exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19 and ongoing industrial action. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has struggled to reduce long waiting lists, further highlighting the system's strain.

According to analysis by the Health Foundation think tank, the next government will need to boost healthcare funding by 4.5% annually in real terms over the next five years to aid COVID recovery, accommodate rising demands, and enhance services. This translates to an additional £46 billion required by 2029/30. However, current public spending plans only account for an £8 billion increase in the health budget, with neither major party outlining comprehensive strategies to close this gap significantly.

"The health service is in crisis, and all the main political parties have said they want to fix it—yet the funding they have so far promised falls well short of the level needed to make improvements," stated Anita Charlesworth, Director of the Health Foundation's REAL Centre.

While both Labour and the Conservatives have suggested additional funding for specific health policies, neither has presented a plan for general increases in baseline NHS spending.

The winning party is expected to conduct a spending review that might reallocate more funds to the NHS at the expense of other departments. Without such reallocation, both parties' current healthcare funding proposals would result in tighter NHS budgets compared to the austerity measures of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition a decade ago.

"An incoming government will face incredibly difficult choices," Charlesworth explained. "Either increased taxes to provide more funding, reduced spending on other public services, or a reduced scope of NHS services."

She warned, "The risk of cutting other public services to protect the NHS is that, over the long term, you may worsen the population's health, thereby increasing the challenges faced by the NHS."

Labour claims it will stimulate economic growth to bridge gaps in public finances without raising personal taxes. Charlesworth noted that the Health Foundation had not modeled different growth scenarios. "If the economy grew more strongly, this problem would be much smaller," she added.