May elections a milestone towards the general election

Welcome to the first of a series of occasional CSP election blogs by CSP director of strategy, policy and engagement  Rob Yeldham.


by Rob Yeldham

These blogs will update members on the forthcoming UK general election. We start with a look at the May local elections in England and Wales and why they should be important to physios, physio support workers and physio students.  

Why should you pay attention to the local elections? 

The local elections in England and Wales will be seen by the media as a referendum on the UK Conservative government. Expect to see the state of the NHS as a key topic of debate. The Conservatives will defend their record by pointing to record numbers of staff and spending. Labour and other opposition parties will highlight waiting lists, staff shortages and pay disputes as evidence of Conservative failure. 

The CSP has a simple set of messages to all parties for all the elections this year; to improve health and address worklessness, we need: 

1. Significant investment in and transformation of rehab services 

2. A bigger, better trained physio workforce  

3. Retain physios and support workers within the profession through better remuneration. 

Who wins most council seats, and the share of the vote each party gets, will be poured over for signs of the general election outcome. This may influence when the prime minister calls the general election. But which councillors, mayors and commissioners are elected could also make a difference to local health for the next four years.  

The policies councillors and mayors adopt will shape health in communities. Crucially councils run social services and are responsible for public health. They decide what public provision for physical activity to make.  Their decisions can make it easier or harder for new physio businesses to grow locally. Local authorities also influence the social determinants of health such as the environment and housing. So who runs your local council matters to your role as a physio, physio support worker or student physio. 

One of the key issues in London and in some other areas will be action on air quality, which is clearly linked to respiratory health.  Moves to limit the most polluting vehicles have been controversial and the Conservatives and Reform will attack Labour and the Greens over schemes like London’s ultra low emissions zone. The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for London | London City Hall 

Which elections will be held on 2 May? 

On 2 May there will be elections for: 

  • MP in Blackpool South (byelection) 
  • 99 unitary, borough councils or borough mayors in England 
  • 164 district councils in England 
  • 10 regional mayors in England 
  • the London Assembly  
  • council byelections in wards in several London boroughs and elsewhere 
  • 37 police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in England and in Wales 
  • town and parish councils, mainly in rural areas of England. 

There are no country wide elections in Scotland or Northern Ireland. 

Full details of the bodies and roles up for election: 2024 United Kingdom local elections - Wikipedia 

Why is it relevant to physiotherapy? 

These different bodies and roles all have different impacts on physiotherapy: 

  • Elected mayors – Ten directly elected combined authority mayors are up for election including in London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.  
  • The Greater Manchester mayor has a very significant role in local health service planning. Health - Greater Manchester Combined Authority 
  • Precise roles vary depending on what powers have been devolved to the individual mayoralties. But, all mayors have significant roles in the local economy, planning, transport and oversee large public sector workforces whose occupational health needs need to be addressed. 
  • London Assembly – the assembly has oversight of health services in London. Health Committee | London City Hall 
  • Unitary and borough councils – these councils are responsible for social care, public health, transport, leisure, environment, housing and small business support. So they can impact on hospital discharge, community rehab, physical activity, air quality and on the social determinants of health. 
  • County councils – counties are responsible for social care, transport and public health. They  can have a significant impact on integrated rehab services, hospital discharge and respiratory health, 
  • District councils – districts are responsible for housing, leisure services and environmental health. They impact on the social determinants of health and on levels of physical activity. 
  • Parish or town councils – parishes are responsible for local leisure facilities so are important in terms of enabling local communities to live active lifestyles. 
  • Police and crime commissioners – PCCs are responsible for strategic decisions round policing, but potentially important for encouraging police forces to provide better occupational health support for officers and staff. 

Changes to voting 

To take part in the local elections you must be registered as a local voter. European Union, and most Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK can register to vote, as well as British citizens.  Register to vote | Electoral Commission 

New requirements are being applied to voters requiring compulsory photo ID for in person voting. For information on voter ID visit the Electoral Commission website -  Electoral Commission Voter ID | Electoral Commission 

The voting system has also been changed to first past the post for mayoral elections. Previously the electoral system was preferential ensuring that the winning candidate had broad popular support. Government to change English voting system after Labour mayoral victories | Mayoral elections | The Guardian 

Please vote 

The CSP does not advise members or the public who to vote for. But we would encourage you to see these elections as important. Please register to vote and use your vote. 

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