by Iain Donaldson on 3 April, 2015
The Liberal Democrats are unique in British Politics in wanting to see Mental Health care put on the same financial footing as physical health care. During this parliament they have succeeded in getting funding for Mental Health Care increased, and for the first time they have introduced maximum waiting times for patients presenting to our Emergency Departments with mental health issues.
The Liberal Democrats also made over 100 amendments to the NHS Act that was originally proposed by the Tories. Amongst these changes was the removal of Labour’s original privatisation rule that allowed private sector companies to charge an additional 11% above the charges from the public sector to provide the same service.
Now the Liberal Democrats have gone much further and are the only major party to commit to funding in full the additional £ 8 billion a year that the NHS will need by the end of the next parliament in order to maintain services.
By comparison, the Labour party are proposing a £ 2.5 Billion increase, the Tories a £ 2 Billion increase, and the Green Party is proposing a £ 7.2 Billion pound cut.
But Liberal Democrat commitments to the NHS are not just about the funding, they are also about supporting changes proposed by medics as to how the NHS should work. The Liberal Democrats have unveiled their plan to establish a £2.5bn “Care Closer to Home” fund to help people stay healthier for longer and avoid hospital admissions.
Under their manifesto proposal, they say they would invest £500m a year to safeguard the NHS by providing care to people in their own homes, GP surgeries, care homes and community clinics.
The £500m annual fund will help to deliver the vision set out in Simon Steven’s Five Year Forward View for the NHS. Measures would allow GP surgeries to work together to provide care traditionally given in hospitals, such as X rays and other tests in their practices, so that patients do not have to travel into hospital. There would also better health care in care homes so that older people do not need to go into hospital unnecessarily.