UPDATED: The Conservatives have achieved the ultimate and taken the 326 seats needed to form a majority government in the UK.
The battle had been brutal with Labour trailing well behind, forcing leader Ed Miliband to hand his notice in, and the Liberal Democrats all but obliterated, with leader Nick Clegg also announcing his resignation.
So, what does this mean for the National Health Service and the UK’s life sciences industry? Well, in a nutshell, while the detail remains thin, the Tories have promised to improve the quality of NHS services through closer integration of services, falling largely in line with plans laid out in the NHS Five Year Forward View.
As such, the party has also promised the NHS an extra £8 billion a year, which NHS leaders say is crucial to help the service improve efficiencies and cope with surging demand. But where this extra money is coming from, let alone whether it is enough to rebalance the books, remains unclear.
In a letter to the Guardian this week ex NHS chief Sir David Nicholson was among nine doctors warning that the NHS is a sick patient in “early-stage terminal decline” which needs “higher levels of investment than any of the three main political parties have pledged”, indicating that the problems facing the service are much worse that feared.
Elsewhere, Cameron also promised us seven-days-a-week GP practices, which unsurprisingly, has not been met with a great deal of enthusiasm, particularly given the growing staff crisis in the profession. On that note, the Tories have also pledged 5,000 more GPs, but the Royal College of General Practitioners says we would have to wait until 2034 to see this realised if current trends continue.
For life sciences in general, the Tories have promised to invest in infrastructure and research, to encourage innovation, and to a closer relationship between the NHS and the sector.
But the current shape of the NHS is looking pretty bleak. We are now seeing more trusts in deficit than ever before (10% in 2012/13 versus 26% in 2013/14) and a failure to hit key performance such as A&E waiting times, leaving many fearing that the system is in danger of collapse.
As The King’s Fund recently noted, while Cameron promised “no more of those pointless reorganisations that aim for change and instead bring chaos”, his government actually oversaw the biggest reorganisation in the NHS’ history, costing more than £3 billion, which has led to increasing waiting times and a decline in performance.
Taking to Twitter this morning, ex RCGP chair Clare Gerada said David Cameron “will go down as the worst PM we have ever had”, and warned that he has “lost us our Union and the NHS”.