Top of page.

Lib Dem Campaign for Race Equality

Navigation.
Content.
We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off

Save our NHS and care services

Good health is a prerequisite to taking full advantage of life's opportunities, and we must do all we can to help people stay healthy as well as provide high-quality care when they are ill. Mental health is just as important as physical health and we have made it a priority to deliver equality between the two.

The NHS has been the envy of the world, but it is now facing the greatest crisis in its history and we urgently need to increase its funding.

As a country, we are living longer - but that means more people are living with conditions like diabetes and dementia and they need help to live with dignity and the maximum degree of independence. We must set the highest standards in care, abolishing the artificial boundaries that prevent health and social care services working together.

Health and wellbeing are affected by far more than just the quality of health and social care services, so we will work to improve the wider factors that affect people's health such as warm homes, clean air and access to exercise and healthy food so that everyone can have the best chance to lead a healthy life.

Our priorities in the next parliament will be:

2.1 Saving the NHS and social care

The NHS and social care services are in a state of crisis. The Conservatives have left them chronically underfunded, while need continues to grow and patient care suffers. Social care is facing a funding black hole of £2 billion this year alone and more than a million older people are missing out on the care they need.

People are routinely left stranded in hospital after they finish their treatment because the follow-up care and support they need is not available. Nearly twothirds of NHS trusts ended the last financial year in deficit.

Yet Labour and Conservative politicians refuse to be honest with the public about the scale of the crisis or the tough decisions which are needed to protect these vital services.

Liberal Democrats recognise that Britain's health and social care services are our most treasured national institutions. Any party seeking to lead the country after this election should be prepared to take bold action to safeguard them. This isn't about doing the easiest thing, it is about doing what is right and what is essential.

Liberal Democrats will take five key steps to put our health and social care system back on a sustainable financial footing:

  1. An immediate 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax to raise £6 billion additional revenue, which would be ringfenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services.
  2. Direct this additional investment to the following priority areas in the health and care system: social care, primary care (and other out-of-hospital care), mental health and public health. This represents the most efficient and effective way of spending these extra resources - ensuring they will have the greatest impact on the quality of care patients receive.
  3. In the longer term and as a replacement for the 1p Income Tax rise, commission the development of a dedicated health and care tax on the basis of wide consultation, possibly based on a reform of National Insurance contributions, which will bring together spending on both services into a collective budget and set out transparently, on people's payslips, what we spend on them.
  4. Establish a cross-party health and social care convention, bringing together stakeholders from all political parties, patients groups, the public and professionals from within the health and social care system to carry out a comprehensive review of the longer-term sustainability of the health and social care finances and workforce, and the practicalities of greater integration. We would invite the devolved administrations to be a part of this work.
  5. Introduce a statutory independent budget monitoring agency for health and care, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility. This would report every three years on how much money the system needs to deliver safe and sustainable treatment and care, and how much is needed to meet the costs of projected increases in demand and any new initiatives - to ensure any changes in services are properly costed and affordable.

Our longer-term objective will be to bring together NHS and social care into one seamless service - pooling budgets in every area by 2020 and developing integrated care organisations.

2.2 Valuing the NHS and social care workforce

Our health and social care services' greatest resource is their staff, working tirelessly under immense pressure. This Government has left them feeling embattled and undervalued.

To support the NHS and social care workforce we will:

GPs in particular have been put under considerable strain due to severe underfunding and neglect from the Conservatives, leaving many people waiting weeks to get appointments. GPs are the core of what the NHS is and they need support to ensure that the NHS is able to survive and thrive. We will:

2.3 Equal care for mental health

In government, we fought tirelessly to reduce the historic inequality between the way physical and mental health are treated in the NHS and are proud of the strides forward we made. We legislated to give mental and physical health equality under the law. We introduced the first waiting time standards for access to treatment for mental health. We introduced the crisis care concordat which dramatically reduced the number of people who end up in police cells when they experience a mental health crisis; and we secured more money for children and young people's mental health services. But we know that not enough resources reach front-line services and that in the fight for parity of esteem there is still a very long way to go. We will:

Medical research is vital for developing new and better treatments. We will fight the threat Brexit poses to medical research funding. We support the principle that all medical trials using public facilities or resources should comply with the Open Trials standards and that a fair proportion of all public funding for medical research should be focused on research into mental ill-health. We also favour the further development of open access academic journals.

2.4 Home not hospital: joining up health and social care

We need services that fit around people's lives, not ones that force them to fit their lives around the care they need. This will become increasingly important as our population ages and the number of people living with long-term conditions grows. It is also more cost-effective to support people to be able to live at home rather than endure lengthy stays in hospital. We must move away from a fragmented system to an integrated service with more joined-up care and more personal budgets so that people can design services for their own individual needs. We believe this should happen from the bottom up, suiting the needs of local communities.

The number of family carers is rising, including in the 'sandwich generation' who find themselves trying to care for their children and their parents at the same time. Carers are unsung heroes; we need to do more to help them. We will:

2.5 Better access to community services

Most people's experience of the NHS is their local GP or the nurses and support staff who visit them at home or work in community clinics. Access to care in GP surgeries and closer to home is better for patients and will also help reduce pressure on hospitals, accident and emergency departments and ambulances. We will:

2.6 Helping people stay healthy

It is better for patients and for the NHS if we keep people healthy in the first place, rather than just waiting until people develop illnesses and come for treatment, but 40% of NHS spending is on diseases that are preventable. We need to do more to promote healthy eating and exercise, making people aware of the dangers of smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol and other drugs, and helping to improve mental health and wellbeing. We will: