Everyone should be able to live a healthy life with the support they need in their local community. That means properly investing in the NHS and social care, doing more across government to promote wellbeing and to reduce inequality at every stage of life. It means making the shift from healthcare that kicks in only when people are ill to systems of wellbeing that help them to stay healthy and minimise levels of physical and mental ill-health.
Under the Conservatives our NHS and social care services are in a state of crisis. The average wait for patients for a routine GP appointment is now more than two weeks and waiting times are rising in A&E and for operations. Health inequalities are widening and life expectancy stalling, and we have one of the worst rates of depression in the EU.
The Conservatives have failed the people who rely on health and care services. Cuts have left hospitals and community facilities crumbling and struggling with overwhelming debts, and they have damaged the services that keep us healthy. Labour’s approach is no better: their plan for the NHS is a backward-looking, top-down reorganisation which would leave it in chaos.
Liberal Democrats are the only party which is forward-thinking and committed to pursuing the preventative measures that will secure the future of the NHS and Social Care. We recognise that a well-trained and well-funded workforce lies at the heart of making sure that people can receive the care they need. We cannot continue to leave our NHS and care staff undervalued, overstretched and demoralised.
We have a bold plan to urgently invest in the workforce and facilities and to deliver equality for mental and physical health. A Liberal Democrat government will build a better health and care system.
Our first priorities in the next parliament will be:
- Raising £7 billion a year in additional revenue by putting 1p on Income Tax, with this money to be ringfenced for spending on the NHS and social care.
- Transforming mental health by treating it with the same urgency as physical health.
- Reforming the Health and Social Care Act as recommended by the NHS, to make the NHS work in a more efficient and joined-up way, and to end the automatic tendering of services.
Leaving the European Union would pose serious threats to the sustainability of the NHS and Social Care systems. It would severely threaten the scope to recruit or retain staff from elsewhere in Europe (a problem which will be made worse by the Conservatives’ proposed ‘nurse tax’). It risks potential delays to medicines, cancer tests, and treatments using radioisotopes. If Donald Trump has his way, it means increased access by US corporations to services currently provided by the NHS and the UK drugs market. Above all it means a long-term loss of financial resources as a result of reduced UK economic growth. Only a Liberal Democrat government can be trusted to avoid these risks by stopping Brexit.