Election 24 – Where do the parties stand?

With most political parties having released their manifestos for the election on 4 July, Rob Yeldham, CSP policy director summarises the main proposals affecting physiotherapy. 

by Rob Yeldham

At the CSP it’s not our job to tell you who to vote for but we do urge members to look at what the parties are offering and to use your vote. Manifestos are never comprehensive, so it is not simple to judge what a party will do beyond their headline manifesto commitments. 

CSP policy asks of all politicians for the general election have been clear: 

  1. Transform rehabilitation 
  2. Expand and develop the workforce needed to deliver better care 
  3. Deliver fair pay and conditions to retain staff.

A range of other issues will be important to members in deciding how to vote in the election including the environment, economy and education. 

But as a health union, we have only reviewed the health and employment content of the party manifestos to date* and this is what we have found: 

  • None of the main parties are promising to provide the levels of funding needed to transform healthcare, at least in the next few years. 

  • Physios get an unexpected mention in the Labour manifesto, with a commitment to better local community services 

  • Labour and the Greens are offering union legislation reform. 

NHS funding 

On funding the NHS, the Lib Dems, Labour and Tories are all offering limited additional funding but linked to different priorities in each case. The independent think tank, The King’s Fund (see link below), are warning that none of the main parties are committing to immediately provide the level of funding needed to truly address the need to transform the NHS for the future. 

The Greens are proposing most - £8bn initially raising to £28bn - but the IFS has questioned how they would deliver this even if they did win the election or find themselves in a coalition. 

Reform are arguing for a fundamental change to the basis of NHS funding. They want an insurance based system. This would not offer additional funding. The CSP would oppose this because we support the NHS being funded through fair general taxation. 

Independent health care 

When it comes to the independent sector, the approaches of parties are quite different. CSP policy is that public health services are usually best provided by a public agency but that there are key roles for the independent sector. This includes the provision of additional capacity to address temporary NHS challenges in occupational health and in areas such as sport, occupational health and social care.  

Reform are proposing tax relief on private health costs to encourage use of non NHS healthcare. In stark contrast the Greens want to end independent sector provision within the NHS. Labour are committed to using spare private independent sector capacity to help bring down waiting lists, which matches CSP policy.  

NHS pay 

We are in the middle of an NHS pay round, so we were not expecting the parties to set out much on pay. However, the Greens have offered an unspecified immediate increase for NHS staff. Reform are proposing tax cuts for frontline health workers.  

No party is committed to addressing the power imbalance between self-employed physios and insurers which impacts on the fees physios can charge. 

Rights at work 

Labour is promising a new deal for working people including extending unions rights and abolishing the Minimum Service Levels Act. The Conservatives oppose this. The Greens support repealing anti union legislation. The Lib Dems are not committed to changing union legislation but are offering better enforcement of existing worker legal protection. 

Primary and community health services 

Labour, the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru are all promising more GPs. Variations on enhanced community pharmacy are being proposed by the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems. 

Labour have confirmed their policy of enhanced community services including, explicitly, physiotherapy. This is the first time since 2010 that physiotherapy has been mentioned in any party manifesto. It is a victory for the lobbying the CSP and our partners have been doing to get community rehab recognised as key to better health and care.  


The Conservatives, Lib Dems, Green Party and Labour have all proposed specific actions to reduce ill health. All of these are welcome, and we hope all the parties can agree to all of them. Labour is targeting caffeinated sugary drinks, whilst the Tories are promising to reintroduce the vaping and smoking restrictions which were shelved before the election.  

What next?

Most parties are being cautious and not overpromising. That means that whoever wins there will be a clear need for the CSP, and our partners, to maintain pressure for our rehab, workforce and pay asks. We will be sharing our plans for this after the election in the July Frontline. 

  • At time of writing SNP, SDLP, Alliance, Sinn Fein, DUP and UUP manifestos were not available. 

The independent Kings fund have provided a useful detailed guide to what the main English parties are offering.

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