Manifesto Analysis – Solutions to fix Britain’s health and social care system?

Tackling waiting times 

Views of the major parties 

Reducing NHS waiting times is a key priority for each party, reflecting the urgency for patients who have experienced unprecedented wait times in recent years. Labour have committed to delivering 40,000 more appointments each week to address the issue and will seek to do so by increasing staff numbers and working hours. The Liberal Democrats have made similar commitments to ensure timely access to healthcare by increasing the number of full-time equivalent staff by 8,000 in general practice and increasing capacity in community care. Whilst the Conservatives have pledged to meet all waiting time targets by the end of the next parliament, detail on how this will be achieved is lacking.  

Improving access to NHS Dentistry is also a key priority for each of the parties. The Liberal Democrats have pledged to reform the dental contract to enable dentists to return to NHS dentistry from the private sector, with Labour instead focussing on increasing the availability of urgent dental appointments. The Conservatives differ in their approach, with the manifesto suggesting that the introduction of a patient premium could allow NHS patients to be seen by dentists.  

Policy Connects view 

Each party’s commitment to increase the number of staff in the NHS is important, as growing wait times have been a constant challenge for recent governments. Although this commitment is crucial, almost every party falls short of highlighting how this will be achieved. Whilst increasing the number of staff who remain in the workforce is crucial, staff burnout and stringent immigration policy will make the retention of domestic and foreign workers an increased challenge. Simply recruiting more healthcare staff is not a silver bullet, and each party fails to outline achievable goals and practical steps to fund their ambitions. Nevertheless, some measures – pooling resources among hospitals, introducing a 24/7 GP booking system, training staff in rural and coastal areas, and collaborating with the independent sector – are all welcome actions.  

Using technology and innovation to improve service delivery  

Views of the major parties 

Integrating technology and innovation to improve the delivery of healthcare is featured in each of the major parties' manifestos. Labour have committed to an innovation and adoption strategy that provides avenues to rapidly introduce and take advantage of innovative solutions to increase productivity, reduce wait times and improve patient experience. They have also pledged to double the number of CT and MRI scanners that are state of the art, embedded with AI. The Conservative manifesto also lays out a strategy to integrate technology to improve service delivery, with the implementation of a new MedTech strategy accompanied by use of the NHS App as a potential one-stop information portal for patients. The Liberal Democrats similarly pledge to use technology to improve service delivery by replacing outdated computers, and investing in digital tools that can improve staff productivity.  

Policy Connects view 

The promise to introduce more advanced machines is welcome and displays the potential benefits of emerging technology. The use of AI and new technology should ultimately reduce waiting lists and make the NHS a more efficiently functioning system. Each of the major parties has importantly recognised that patient care can be improved with new and efficient medical technology, investment in innovative MedTech solutions, and rapid adoption of technology. The next government should further foster confidence in the potential of technology and innovation by clearly outlining their R&D and investment commitments.  

Creating a sustainable Workforce 

View of the major parties 

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to address the NHS workforce crisis by establishing an independent pay review body, implementing a ten-year retention plan to retain more NHS staff, and making flexible working a day-one right. They have also outlined plans in their manifesto to fix the work visa system and exempt NHS and care staff from the Immigration Skills Charge. Labour’s NHS workforce plan would include regular independent workforce planning across health and social care and include training a thousand extra midwives. Alongside plans to increase training places for various professions, the Conservatives will seek to add 92,000 nurses and 28,000 doctors by the end of the next parliament.  

In the realm of social care, the Liberal Democrats plan to introduce a higher Carers minimum wage as part of their plans to establish a social care workforce plan and a Royal College of Care workers to improve recognition and career progression. The Conservatives’ have also pledged to provide local authorities with an additional £8.6 billion for social care and to implement the ‘People at the Heart of Care’ white paper. 

Policy Connects view 

The Liberal Democrats’ proposal to create a social care workforce plan would be a welcome step to ensure the sustainability of both the NHS and social care sectors. Disappointingly, Labour’s manifesto largely avoids social care, offering only a vague promise to develop a plan. England's current social care system is inadequate and neglected, leaving many needs unmet. While Labour's fair pay agreement for care workers could attract more workers, without corresponding increases in local government funding, it risks further straining already stretched care providers and local council budgets.  

Overall, it is positive to see a re-commitment from the Conservative party to social care reform with the October 2025 roll-out of a cap on lifetime care costs. Although the Conservatives manifesto included several positive initiatives, it fails to address staff wellbeing and reform pay reviews and must be considered as falling short of offering the reforms necessary to improve performance and reverse declining NHS worker satisfaction.  

Mental Health 

View of the major parties  

Each of the major parties has prioritised mental health in their healthcare plans:  

Labour plans to recruit 8,500 new staff to treat both children and adults at risk, alongside reforming the Mental Health Act to establish a National Care Service with national standards ensuring consistent care across the country, including for marginalized groups. They aim to enhance patient rights, autonomy, and dignity throughout treatment. 

The Conservatives pledge to pass legislation in the first parliamentary session to improve treatment and support for severe mental health needs, emphasising parity of esteem between mental and physical health. They plan a 50% increase in NHS Talking Therapies and significant expansion of Individual Placement and Support for Severe Mental Illness. 

The Liberal Democrats present the most detailed plan, including modernising the Mental Health Act to empower patients with greater control over treatment and prevent inappropriate detentions. They propose establishing a statutory, independent Mental Health Commissioner to advocate for patients and families, and broadening safety investigations in mental health hospitals to encompass overall patient experiences. They also focus on cutting suicide rates through community prevention services and enhanced training for NHS staff. 

Young people's mental health is a priority across the parties' manifestos, each offering distinct approaches. The Liberal Democrats propose walk-in hubs and regular check-ups in every community and wish to extend mental health services until the age of 25 to ensure seamless transition into adult care. The Conservatives aim to expand Mental Health Support Teams to cover all schools and colleges by 2030 and establish early support hubs for ages 11-25 in local communities. Labour's Young Futures hubs promise accessible mental health services for children and young people in every community. 

Policy Connects view 

The emphasis placed on reforming the outdated Mental Health Act, notably in the manifestos of Labour and the Liberal Democrats, is particularly welcome. While the Conservative manifesto commits to enhancing Mental Health service commissioning, it falls short of including plans to reform the Mental Health Act in its initial legislative agenda, a continuing source of disappointment given the act's failure to pass in the current parliament. Overall, while all parties prioritise mental health reform, the Liberal Democrats present the most comprehensive approach, outlining detailed plans for legislative reform, enhanced patient advocacy, and broad improvements across mental health services, particularly targeting young people and individuals at risk of suicide. 

While accessibility and early intervention are key focuses for all parties, the Liberal Democrats distinguish themselves with a holistic strategy that includes community-based hubs and extends service availability to a wider age range. In contrast, the Conservatives concentrate on school-based teams and early community support, while Labour highlights open-access hubs as their primary initiative. However, none of the three manifestos adequately address the importance of integrating lived experiences into mental health support frameworks to ensure better outcomes. 


While each party's Health policies vary in ambition and detail, it is crucial that the next government provides stability, encourages investment, and guides the UK towards a sustainable Healthcare system. Achieving this requires clear, actionable policies that build on current progress and address the pressing challenges in Health and social care and its workforce. Further clarification on how each aspect of their plan supports their larger policy pledges is needed to ensure these ideas are practically supported.  

Jasmin Adebisi, Policy Manager Health

Lavanya Rangarajan, Project Co-ordinator