The major political parties have laid out their election manifestos, all including a heavy emphasis on improving the NHS.
Increasing the number of NHS workers was a theme running through all of the manifestos recognising that there are simply not enough staff in the NHS to deal with the increasingly ageing population and the number of people with long-term conditions.
Labour has pledged to increase the number of midwives by 3000 and employ 20,000 more nurses. It is unclear which settings these new midwives and nurses will be employed into. UKIP has also pledged to increase the number of GPs, nurses and midwives by the same amounts. However, their manifesto states: 'We believe that nursing starts and ends on the ward.' This is in contrast to the emphasis on moving more care into the community from the other parties.
The RCM welcomed Labour's pledge to increase the number of midwives but identified that there would be a need to properly staff community midwifery services to ensure that all women get the support they need.
Labour has also guaranteed GP appointments within 48 hours. They have said that they will join up services from home to hospital with a single point of contact. The Conservatives took accessibility of primary care one step further by promising seven-day access from 8am to 8pm by 2020. They also pledged same day GP appointments for over 75s.
The Green party manifesto included an entire section on prevention in the community and primary care, as well as on moving care out of hospitals. This includes providing local community health centres, which will 'help people access healthcare quickly rather than become a replacement for GPs'.
All of the parties have acknowledged that mental health requires as much attention as physical health. The Lib Dem's have pledged
£3.5 billion for mental health, which is the most pledged by any party. This will go towards standardising waiting times, increasing access to talking therapies and improving children's mental health services.
The King's Fund has said that the Lib Dems 'have led the way in pushing mental health up the agenda. While they are right to prioritise spending on mental health and community services, holding back most of the £8bn funding increase until 2017/18 will create an unsustainable squeeze on acute services in the meantime.'
The party's manifestos can be found on their websites.