The NHS and social care services are in a state of crisis.
When people turn for help, too often help is not there. For the first time ever, the average wait for a routine GP appointment is now more than two weeks, our cancer survival rates are below the European average, and we have one of the worst rates of depression in the EU.
The Conservatives, distracted by their pursuit of Brexit, have failed to give the NHS and social care the needed support. By repeatedly cutting health and social care budgets, leaving hospitals crumbling and struggling with overwhelming debt, and leaving health and care staff overworked and undervalued, the Conservatives have damaged our NHS and social care services.
Liberal Democrats demand better for the NHS and social care services. We are committed to securing the future of the NHS.
With our bold plan to invest urgently in the NHS and social care services and deliver equality for mental and physical health, we will transform health services for the future. A Liberal Democrat government will build a better health and care system that is prepared for the future, provides quality care for patients and respects our health workforce.
The Liberal Democrats are committed to securing the future of the NHS. We must ensure adequate funding and to do so we will put a penny in the pound on Income Tax to give the NHS and Social Care Services additional resources.
As a short-term measure, in addition to the Government’s recent spending announcement, we would raise a further 1p in the £ from income tax, around £6billion a year, and use this to meet immediate priorities in social care, reverse cuts to public health, and boost spending on mental health beyond the government’s current plans. 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.
In the medium-term, we will establish a cross-party commission to set a realistic long-term funding settlement for the NHS and social care, and introduce a dedicated Health and Social Care tax to fund it. We will also use part of our £100 billion capital fund to make necessary investments in hospitals, other buildings and equipment.
We will transform our mental health services by treating mental health with the same urgency as physical health.
A Liberal Democrat government will ringfence funding for mental health services. And we will invest far more heavily in the childhood and adolescent mental health services that communities need.
We will increase mental health staffing and commit to ensuring that 100% of children and young people with diagnosable conditions get NHS treatment by 2025.
To deliver our goal of parity between mental and physical health care, we will make prescriptions for people with chronic mental health conditions available for free on the NHS, as is already the case for conditions such as cancer or diabetes. We will introduce further mental health maximum waiting time standards, starting with children’s services, services for people with eating disorders, and bipolar conditions.