I am incredibly proud of our NHS – which is the largest and the oldest single-payer system for healthcare in the world and has helped my family on so many occasions. Britain really was, and still is, a pioneer when it comes to healthcare. The NHS has, for decades, set the example across the world for how a country should look after the health of its people – no matter their means.
But the NHS doesn’t work as well as many would like. Successive governments have tried, and failed, to ‘fix’ the NHS – because the challenges are complex.
I have, over the years, spoken to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to ask them what they would do to ‘fix’ the NHS. The answer, each time, is that there isn’t a ‘catch all’ solution: they all agree that healthcare needs more money – which the Lib Dems plan to raise. But as Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb, talking about our GE2017 manifesto, said “simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term."
The Lib Dems have called on the Government to set up an independent, cross-party commission to look at how we can deliver a new, sustainable settlement for health and care in the longer term. We have also set up our own panel of leading experts to support our work on this issue.
I, and the Liberal Democrats, believe we need to take a broad; holistic approach to improving British healthcare, which would include the following:
Guarantee EU workers:
- make sure EU healthcare workers in the UK – from doctors and nurses to support staff - get the right to stay and continue providing a vital service. The Liberal Democrats continuously campaign against the Conservative government’s hard Brexit plans, and in favour of guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens’ to remain in the UK (and British citizens’ to remain in the EU). We secured amendments on these to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords (voted down by the House of Commons) and continue to campaign against the Conservative government’s refusal to guarantee these rights.
- 1 penny NHS tax: there are a host of reasons why extra money would help the NHS - including the fact that good staff often can’t afford to live on current salaries (especially in London) and there aren’t enough staff to meet waiting time standards.
- The Liberal Democrats manifesto sets out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services. This will include a 1% rise on the basic, higher, additional and dividend rates of income tax in the next financial year raising around £6bn per year, which will be ringfenced to be spent on NHS and care services and public health.
A regional breakdown of how the £6bn would be distributed, based on current funding allocations for both the NHS and social care, can be found here. For Chelsea and Fulham it will mean (broken down into local council areas):
- ■ 6 million of extra funding for Kensington and Chelsea,
- ■ 14 million for Hammersmith & Fulham.
Care in the community:
- older people, the physically or mentally disabled and vulnerable are just some of those who need extra care in the community to free up spaces in hospital.
- whether it be sex education, healthy eating, emergency survival training or the range of non-hospital services which are already available, the more people are educated, the less they will need to use emergency healthcare services. Which is why the Lib Dems want to see a broad, balanced curriculum in our schools which includes aid and emergency lifesaving skills and age-appropriate sex and relationship education.
Spotlight on mental health:
- Mental health is a priority for the Liberal Democrats. That’s why, in Government, we secured additional investment and the first ever treatment waiting-time standards for mental health. We will continue to campaign tirelessly for the highest standards of care and the extra money which is still needed.
Tim Farron and Norman Lamb, visiting the mental health wing of a hospital. Photo credit: The Express