General elections in the UK and future of cardiovascular health

As the United Kingdom expects the general election sometime in next half of 2024, healthcare emerges as a central concern, for the Conservative and the shadow party, as well as the public. Challenges persist in the NHS by the ongoing repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, include workforce shortages, extended waiting lists for elective treatments, and heightened mortality rates in key disease areas, such as cardiovascular diseases.

Over the year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has enacted numerous initiatives to address cardiovascular diseases, such as the enhancement of innovation in diagnostic services and increased capacity at primary care services to enable early detection of cardiovascular diseases. However, health inequalities in access to early diagnosis and cardiovascular care remains a key challenge. The Labour party approach to health as centred more around health inequalities, placing emphasis on patient access to cardiovascular and cancer services across the country.

The government under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has undertaken significant measures to tackle these health issues, both directly and indirectly affecting the cardiovascular health of the UK population. Among these measures is increased funding for the NHS, with an additional £30 million allocated to expedite technological advancements in the healthcare sector. This funding is particularly geared towards enabling earlier diagnoses of critical illnesses in the UK, impacting the timely identification and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and reducing mortality rates.
Furthermore, the Conservative government introduced a 15-year plan, backed by a £2.4 billion investment, with the objective of doubling medical school placements and expanding the training of nurses and midwives. This initiative holds the potential to enhance overall healthcare, including cardiovascular care, by augmenting the workforce and ensuring timely access to specialized doctors. Additional investments include a £406 million allocation over the next five years to support individuals dealing with common health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, in their pursuit to remain employed or return to work.

The Labour Party, under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, has also outlined its key health priorities, placing a particular focus on addressing health inequalities, workforce challenges, and improving patient access to optimal treatments. Starmer’s Labour Party has pledged to reform the NHS, specifically targeting cardiovascular diseases with the aim of reducing mortality by 25% within the next decade. The proposed reforms encompass a broader package, including the expansion of community care, increased training for health workers, and facilitating GP bookings via the NHS app, demonstrating a commitment to comprehensive healthcare reform.

Both political parties confront challenges in realising their healthcare visions. While the Conservative government’s financial allocations are acknowledged, healthcare experts advocate for a substantial increase in NHS funding. Keir Starmer underscores the imperative nature of change and reform, asserting that the NHS’s future hangs in the balance.

As voters assess the healthcare priorities of the Conservative and Labour parties, it becomes evident that both present distinctive approaches to address the nation’s health challenges. The Conservative government, led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, concentrates on targeted initiatives, such as increased investment into innovation and health technologies, with lesser understanding of how to well-integrate these technologies into the right levels of healthcare servicing and ensure everyone has access. Starmer’s Labour party on the other hand, envisions broader reforms with a dedication to health inequalities and access and workforce challenges, despite having not shown proof of how the NHS will be financed to achieve these.

For the cardiovascular future of the UK, a Conservative leadership could mean more advanced technologies in the accurate and early diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases and reduced morality due to early interventions and advanced non-invasive procedures. However, a Labour government might emphasis addressing current challenges in access to cardiovascular care and treatments, and ensure that patients have equitable access to cardiovascular treatments and clear patient pathways for care.