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Examining the health and life science pledges in the Conservative and Lib Dem Manifestos

By June 12, 2024No Comments

On Monday, the Lib Dems were the first of the three major parties to release their manifesto. Owing to Ed Davey’s personal connection, the document focused heavily on social care.

BIVDA is pleased to see the Lib Dems’ pledge to review diagnostic provision across the NHS and implement a new ten-year Strategic Diagnostics Plan. This recognises the continued importance of diagnostics to the NHS and an acknowledgment that they could be used more effectively in future. We hope to see a similar commitment in the Labour manifesto.

Investing at least 3% of GDP into R&D by 2030 (rising to 3.5% by 2034) is also welcome, as is the promise to invest more heavily in virtual wards and technology which enables care closer to home. The latter has been proven to achieve improved patient outcomes and prevents bed blockage, something which BIVDA has highlighted often.

Rishi Sunak launched the Conservative Party manifesto yesterday, with the Prime Minister setting out a series of pledges for the life sciences industry.

Unsurprisingly, there is a heavy focus on NHS performance.  Some of the measures are clearly populist, such as reducing NHS managers by 5,500 to reinvest £550m in frontline services.  They also aim to deliver an increase of 92,000 NHS nurses and 28,000 doctors from 2023 levels by the end of the next Parliament.

The manifesto pledges to remove “bureaucratic obstacles”, like the NHS Budget Impact Test, and align NHS England’s cost-effectiveness thresholds for new medicines with those used by NICE – a measure intended to improve and accelerate access to new medicines in the NHS.

The party’s commitment to implement a new MedTech pathway aligns closely with previously stated ambitions to make the UK a world-leading regulatory system for new technologies. Similarly, the promise to increase the number of clinical trials echoes previous commitments in this space following the publication of the O’Shaughnessy review.

The Conservative manifesto also included a commitment “to increase public spending on R&D to £22 billion a year and to maintain R&D tax reliefs and push forward with its Advanced Manufacturing Plan, measures which seek to boost the UK’s global competitiveness.

Labour’s manifesto is anticipated to be released on Thursday.  Commentators suggest that it is likely to be comparatively light on detail; in part reflecting the timing of the general election and in part the broad-brush five point plan set out in May.  With NHS waiting lists a key focus for Labour, there is expected to be a significant emphasis on life sciences and it will be interesting to see how proposals differ from the Conservative and Liberal Democrats.

Ben Kemp