Following his call to the government to make freeing up as much as £1.5bn to invest in the NHS in 2015/2016 an Autumn Statement priority, Liberal Democrat Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb has written the article below.
"For too long mental health has been seen as a second-class issue in the NHS and I am determined to change that.
"Today I’ve called for up to an extra £1.5 billion to be invested in the NHS next April. A significant amount of that money would go towards improving mental health services, especially for children and young people.
"At our party conference in Glasgow, Nick Clegg said the Liberal Democrats will spend at least £1bn extra on health and care in each year of the next parliament, including £500m each year for mental health.
"The commitment we made to increase health spending in real terms has been achieved every year since 2010-11. And compared with 2010, we are delivering 850,000 more operations every year. This summer the independent Commonwealth Fund assessed the NHS as the top healthcare system out of the world’s 11 richest countries. The NHS is performing better than it ever has done before.
"And two weeks ago NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens set out a clear plan for how we can improve and protect health and care services for the future - joining up care for patients with complex health needs, and looking after more people in the community.
"But he also made clear that, with a significant funding gap projected, our health and care system needs more money so it can continue to provide excellent care in future.
"Too often politicians delay big spending decisions in the hope they become someone else’s problem. Doing that would betray patients. Independent organisations like the NHS Confederation, the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust have made clear that significantly more funding is needed to transform and improve health and care services.
"Without this money, the NHS could crash. Hospitals, ambulance services, doctors, and care services are all under increasing pressure as the numbers of people needing care and support continue to rise because of our ageing population and more living with long-term conditions. The NHS needs significantly more money to help services adapt to the changing needs of patients and it can’t afford to wait.
"The Liberal Democrats are the only party with a clear plan for improvement from the bottom up, joining up health and care at a local level to give people care closer to home.
"But if you want to see health and care services protected for the future, with more investment in mental health and care in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, we need your support.
"Freeing up to an extra £1.5 billion is the first step towards making sure we continue to create a fairer society, with opportunity for everyone.