General Election Manifestos: What does it all mean for people living with cancer?

Published: 14 June 2024
All major UK parties are now publishing their manifesto commitments, but what do they each include on cancer care? Here are some key takeaways.
Profile photo of Miriam Moore, Senior Campaigns Adviser at Macmillan Cancer Support.

Miriam Moore Senior Campaigns Adviser at Macmillan Cancer Support

Manifestos and cancer

With less than a month before the UK goes to the polls, political parties have been busy working on and publishing their election manifestos.

A manifesto is essentially a list of policies that a political party says it will enact if it is voted into office at an election. There is no set format for how they are presented, and the amount of detail provided varies. Generally, they include a party’s main policies on issues such as the economy, taxation, health, education, law and order, defense, and the environment. 

The full publications are linked below, along with our breakdown of some of the promises specifically related to the care received by people living with cancer. We know that cancer is more than a diagnosis and can touch every part of someone’s life, which means policies on welfare, housing and much more will have direct impacts on those living with cancer. But hopefully this summary is a helpful starting point. 

Manifesto commitments on cancer care

Updated on June 19th

Health is managed separately in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland by their own governments, not by Westminster. However, wherever you live, your next MP can play a role in transforming cancer care, whether it's through benefits reform, health policy or the funding to devolved governments.  

  • The Conservatives said in their manifesto that the NHS will meet performance targets for cancer and other diseases by the end of the next parliament; they pledged to invest in technology and new NHS facilities, and recruit 92,000 additional nurses and 24,000 new doctors as pledged in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.  
  • Labour has promised “fewer cancer deaths” by doubling the number of state-of-the-art scanners to improve early detection rates and increasing the number of NHS appointments by 40,000 a week by incentivising staff to work out of hours and introducing shared waiting lists to pool resources across neighboring hospitals. Labour have also committed to the increases in staff that are laid out in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. 
  • The Liberal Democrats said they would guarantee that all cancer patients would start treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral – to be achieved, in part, by recruiting more cancer nurses and replacing older scanning machines. 
  • The Green Party has said it will reduce waiting lists by increasing the NHS budget by £28bn a year by 2030.  
  • Reform UK said the NHS needs urgent reform to increase the number of staff and cut waiting lists. More details are expected at an event on Monday.
  • Plaid Cymru have said they would create a new ‘Stop Cancer Strategy’ to ensure cancers are caught and treated earlier, and ending Wales’s postcode lottery for treatment. They would lower the sensitivity threshold for bowel cancer screening and increase rates of lung cancer screening, and commit extra investment to recruit, train and retain more oncology staff. 
  • SNP manifesto calls for a funding boost for NHS England by at least £16bn each year, and providing an extra £1.6bn to NHS Scotland, as well as keeping the NHS in public hands.

Whilst the policies listed here are not an exhaustive list of what is being proposed, there is clear unified agreement that demand is rising, the healthcare system can’t keep up, and cancer care is at a tipping point. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Each party is laying out their routes to tackle these challenges, and each varies in their approach.

This is a crucial moment to set out what an ambitious government could do to end the torment of navigating a cancer diagnosis and the ripple effect it has on all aspects of a person’s life. This crisis can be solved, but it needs both long-term thinking and action that starts right now. 

Reimagine how we treat people with cancer  

Macmillan is calling for a long-term strategy that revolutionises how people with cancer are treated. That means not only treating the cancer, but the impact it can have on every aspect of a person’s life, including healthcare, finances, work and housing, so that their care truly revolves around who they are and what they need.       

We want everyone living with cancer in the UK to receive the best care in the world. Putting the needs of people with cancer at the heart of everything we do, we’re on a mission to eliminate the gaps in cancer care so wherever you are and whoever you are, you get the very best.  

For this to change, we need to see a transformative plan considered across government departments. It’s time to lead the way once again. Together, with politicians and partners, we can transform cancer care for a more hopeful future for people with cancer and the people who support them. And you can help us make that happen! 



How you can help this General Election

It’s time to lead the way once again. Together, with politicians and partners, we can transform cancer care for a more hopeful future for people with cancer and the people who support them. And you can help us make that happen.


Write to your local candidates

Make your voice heard by using our simple tool will to write to all your local candidates standing in this election and ask them: will you transform cancer care in the next Parliament? 


Join our campaign network

Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing easy, simple steps you can take to make cancer care a priority for the next government. Simply sign up to our short email updates today and you’ll be the first to hear how you can help.


Get election-ready 

Make sure you're registered to vote before the June 18 deadline. Register through the registered to vote to ensure your voice is heard on polling day.  


Stay informed and engaged 

Be the first to hear about new ways to get involved and stay up to date with opportunities to take action by keeping an eye on the General Election section of our website. Here you'll find our latest information about the election, including our weekly blog series and campaign updates. Together we can have a real impact for people living with cancer. 


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