Reality check: the party leaders on NHS waiting lists and immigration targets

  • 1. Have NHS waiting lists started to come down over recent months?

    Rishi Sunak said that not enough progress had been made but lists have gone down by about 200,000 appointments in the last five months.

    “There is still a way to go, of course there is, but I will stick to it and I will get it done,” he told the audience.

    A recently as April, the overall number of waits for non-emergency treatment in England was 7.6 million, a figure that was about 350,000 higher than when the prime minister first pledged that lists would fall.

    However, it is about 200,000 down from when waiting lists hit a peak in September last year. That said, new NHS figures last week found that the hospital backlog in England had gone up slightly over the past month. The waiting list was 7.57 million at the end of last month, up from 7.54 million the previous month.

  • 2. Can Labour clear the NHS backlog in England completely in five years?

    Keir Starmer once again referred to his party’s plan to clear the backlog by incentivising staff to work at the weekends and using agency staff.

    It’s a tall order – about 3.2 million people in England are now waiting more than 18 weeks for NHS treatment. Experts have said it will be challenging to deliver, and representative bodies such as the British Medical Association have also emphasised that it relies on paying staff properly.

    “The elephant in the room remains pay for the expertise of doctors needed to clear these waiting lists,” the BMA has said.

  • 3. Are the Lib Dems’ policies ‘responsible’ and ‘fully costed?’

    A range of ambitious Liberal Democrat pledges was touted by the party’s leader Ed Davey, including a plan to recruit 8,000 more GPss. Ultimately, an extra £27bn would be put into day-to-day public spending. Money would be raised by getting “large corporates” to pay more tax and reversing tax cuts on big banks, according to Davey.

    The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) thinktank has said that planned Lib Dem taxes on banks would need to be raised to new highs – much higher than under the Conservatives – to achieve the party’s planned revenue, and would ultimately be felt at least in part by their customers.

    Much of the promised spending is heavily focused on protected services such as the NHS, schools and defence, according to the IFS. But it found that other areas – including courts and local government services – would still face billions of pounds in cuts.

  • 4. Is Brexit is source of problems in the manufacturing sector?

    John Swinney, leader of the Scottish National party, was eager to mention the B word, claiming that it was at the root of problems in Britain’s manufacturing sector.

    It’s a position with no shortage of supporters beyond the SNP. When UK factories last year reported a 16th consecutive month of falling exports, manufacturers themselves warned that obstacles since leaving the EU were undermining relationships.

    But for many, manufacturing has been in decline for mandecades. As far back as 2011, the UK’s manufacturing sector had already shrunk by two-thirds over the previous three decades, the greatest de-industrialisation of any major nation.

  • 5. Has any UK political leader met a target they have put on immigration numbers?

    Keir Starmer would not reveal a specific number by which Labour would reduce net migration. “Every single politician who has put a number on it has never met that number,” he told the audience.

    British political debate on immigration – and particularly the Conservatives’ stance on it – has been haunted by David Cameron’s pledge in 2010 that he wanted to limit net migration to the “tens of thousands” a year.

    Cameron was unable to meet that target, as was Boris Johnson, when he eventually made a pledge in his party’s 2019 manifesto that “overall numbers would come down”.

  • 6. Did Ed Davey really meet his wife on a Lib Dem social housing working group?


  • The Guardian