So what health manifesto releases have there been before Manifesto Week?
As 'manifesto week' is upon us, we round up the past few weeks' health policy releases, leaks and news for the General Election.
The Conservative Party has already announced various healthcare initiatives whilst in government, including its childhood obesity plan, extra mental health spending (now promised to include 10,000 more NHS mental health staff by 2020) and George Osbourne’s sugar tax to name a few.
May has now pledged to replace the 1983 Mental Health Act with new laws tackling "unnecessary detention" in England and Wales. One of the eleven pledges announced on Monday also includes the extension of the Equalities Act for those with mental health conditions.
Yesterday, May announced that workers will be given a legal right to take a year's leave from their job to care for elderly relatives under a Conservative Government. The new statutory right, much like maternity leave, will mean that their jobs are guaranteed while they are caring for their loved ones - although it is worth noting that people taking this opportunity will not be paid like maternity leave is.
Speaking of maternity leave, the Conservative Party also announced that it would hold a consultation on rights such as maternity leave for “gig” economy workers.
The Labour Party has pledged rather a lot more in comparison, though the Conservatives have a number of existing healthcare policies to fall back on such as the sugar tax.
Jeremy Corbyn has promised to spend an extra £37bn on the NHS in England over the next five years, with £10bn of that spent on upgrading IT systems or repairing buildings, firing shots at last week’s cybersecurity breach which hit eleven area health boards, NHS National Services and the Scottish Ambulance Service (as well as an estimated 100 countries).
The party is also hitting back against the Conservatives’ current programme of planned health service cuts, by planning to suspend the hospital services programme, scrapping the 1% cap on NHS worker pay rises, protecting free nurse and midwife tuition, and regulating safe NHS workforce levels. Labour is proposing that devolution is further supported through health spending, by ringfencing budgets to allow councils to invest in leisure activity and health campaigns.
Labour has pledged to ban junk food and sweets adverts, as it lays out the foundations for its own child health bill to deal with childhood obesity, and reduce the £6bn of cost to the NHS caused by it. One of the main headlines from the Labour guarantees thus far has been its policy to cut car parking charges at hospitals, paying for this by raising tax on private healthcare.
Tim Farron’s party supports the introduction of a regulated cannabis market in the UK. The party suggested that legalising the drug will prove beneficial for public health and regulation will levy pressure on the criminal justice system. Another drug policy includes ensuring access to HIV prevention drug Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) on the NHS for people in high-risk groups.
The party has also announced it would implement a 1p tax rise and plough that £6bn into the NHS and social care system; and in the long term introduce a health and care tax to unite the spend on both services. They have also announced that people would be able to see what parts of their tax are being spent on those services on their payslip.
Part of the long term plan includes establishing a cross-party health and care convention to review longer term sustainability of the health and care finances while setting up an office of health and care funding, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The Green Party:
Would remove the involvement of the private sector in the health service, and increase spending.
It would match mental health spending to the amount spent on physical health. Greens would introduce protection and regulation for carers and disabled people.
Its mini manifesto releases include: end pay freezes for public sector workers, introduce safe levels of staffing across the NHS, reinstate sexual health services, provide free NHS maternity care for everyone, and decriminalise abortion procedures across the entire UK.
Pledges include improving access to medical services and gender identity clinics, particularly for trans and non-binary young people; provide appropriate training to all NHS staff about intersex individuals; and push for consultation on reducing the 12-month blood donation deferral period for men who have relations with men.
The Women's Equality Party:
Would introduce a right to paid leave for carers; launch a parliamentary inquiry into gender inequalities in health care and medical research to build long-lasting, intersectional solutions; encourage investment into women’s health; increase research into historically overlooked areas of health care that have disadvantaged women; seek to fully integrate health and social care systems and commissioning to ensure joined up health and social care over the course of individuals’ lives; and improve mental health care, focusing on prevention and early intervention.