General Election 2024: Bristol voter says 'NHS is main priority' when choosing who to support

The Bristol South constituency has been a Labour seat since the1930s, with Karin Smyth serving as MP since 2015. The candidates looking to displace Mrs Smith in this election are Jai Breitnauer for the Greens, Liz Brennan for the Conservatives, Andrew Brown for the Lib Dems, Neil Norton for the Social Democratic Party and Richard Visick for Reform UK.

The NHS is always a hot topic every election and all the political parties announce big plans around what they would do to improve the nation's health service should they gain power. The 2024 General Election is no different.

So far Labour has pledged to end the 8am scramble for GP appointments by training more doctors and updating the NHS app so slots are easy to book and rearrange. Under the party’s plans, family doctors, physiotherapists, mental health specialists, dentists, district nurses, care workers and health visitors would be brought under one roof as part of a trial of Neighbourhood Health Centres.

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Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey announced his party’s plan to give every cancer patient a dedicated specialist nurse. The Lib Dems have said they would like to recruit an extra 3,400 nurses in England, paid for by “reversing tax cuts for the big banks and reforming capital gains tax”.

The Conservative Party’s manifesto commits to “accelerating the NHS’s recovery from the pandemic, delivering safe and effective services and ongoing improvements in waiting times for primary, elective, cancer and emergency care”.

Meanwhile the Green Party said the Government has “failed to take on the unhealthy food lobby” in its manifesto, claiming that ultra-processed food “is linked to an increased risk of 32 health problems including cancer, obesity and diabetes” and that poor diets cost the NHS £6.5 billion each year. It has also committed to a National Cancer Plan which would include “public health measures such as interventions on food, alcohol and tobacco” and “enhanced screening”.

Bristol Live has been out speaking to people in Victoria Park in Bedminster to better understand how important voters in South Bristol feel the issue of the NHS is to residents.

One resident, walking through the park with her three-week-old baby, praised the NHS. She said: "Her [daughter's] birth was amazing, and it's all thanks to the people at the NHS." Another interviewee, who had recently undergone cancer surgery, added: "They treated me very well," describing the NHS as "the main priority with my vote".

When asked about their feelings on the current state of the NHS, respondents offered differing views. One person remarked that it had been "mismanaged," while another disagreed, and said: "It's always been reported that it's in a terrible state, but this winter I had a health crisis, and everything was responded to promptly, appropriately, and with good cheer."

One person, who worked in the NHS commented on the doctor's strike, calling it "a real muddle," but highlighted that the NHS is "a fantastic thing" that "just needs investment."

Interviewees predominantly seemed most confident in the Green Party or Labour's ability to improve the NHS and one respondent expressed her distrust for the Tories. She said: "They are all rich and can afford to go private." She also mentioned that people would be happy to pay "a bit more to protect the NHS."

However, a few expressed a lack of confidence in all political parties. One person said: "Whatever colour tie they wear, I don't think any of them have a clue," while another said, "I will spoil my ballot; there is no party that has a program that I can vote for."