Press release

Health leaders call for a ‘realism reset’ for the NHS from the PM candidates

Matthew Taylor calls on candidates for the Conservative Party leadership election to be honest about the scale of the challenges facing the NHS.

17 July 2022

As the Conservative leadership campaign continues, NHS leaders are urging the remaining candidates – and the future Prime Minister – to level with the public about the current challenges facing the NHS and set out how they will support this public institution to ensure patients get the care they need. 

This includes ensuring services receive appropriate capital investment, after nine in 10 NHS leaders said recently their efforts to reduce the size of the waiting list are being hindered by a decade long lack of investment in buildings and estate, as well as addressing the workforce crisis and ensuring that social care is appropriately supported, including with a national minimum care worker wage to prevent a mass exodus of staff.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:

“As we watch the Conservative Party leadership race play out and wait to find out who our next Prime Minister will be, healthcare leaders urge that a heavy dose of realism about the state of the NHS is injected into the public debate.
“What the NHS and the public really need from politicians right now is a realism reset and a promise to level honestly with them.
“We need to a proper acknowledgement of where the last 10 years of austerity have left the NHS, and the huge gulf between levels of demand and capacity.

“That honesty means crumbling buildings and ill-equipped and outdated estate, 105,000 staff vacancies at the last count, and a social care system in desperate need of repair and very far from being fixed as the current Prime Minister would have us believe. 
“We need to do away with the myths and political rhetoric. Forty new hospitals will not have been built by the next election, nor has social care been sorted and our colleagues in social care are in desperate need of extra support.
“Neither is the NHS awash with money, soaring inflation and ongoing COVID costs actually mean a real terms decrease in funding.
“Ultimately, we all want a brilliant NHS that ensures a healthy population and in turn a healthy economy, but for that wish to become real we are going to need a serious dose of political honesty and for our political leaders to be brave enough to tell the truth.  It is time for a reality reset on the NHS.”

About us

We are the membership organisation that brings together, supports and speaks for the whole healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The members we represent employ 1.5 million staff, care for more than 1 million patients a day and control £150 billion of public expenditure. We promote collaboration and partnership working as the key to improving population health, delivering high-quality care and reducing health inequalities.