Liberal Democrats

F15: Stop Brexit to Save the NHS and Social Care

Federal Policy Committee

Mover: Baroness Jolly (Spokesperson for Health).

Summation: Tamora Langley (Chair of the Policy Working Group).

Conference believes that leaving the European Union poses serious threats to the sustainability of the NHS and Social Care systems and the health and wellbeing of all UK citizens, in particular through:

  1. Severely threatening the ability of staff from elsewhere in Europe to work here.
  2. Potential delays to medicines, cancer tests, and treatments using radioisotopes.
  3. Increased access to services currently provided by the NHS and the UK drugs market by US healthcare corporations, as a result of a wide-ranging trade deal with the USA.
  4. UK patients missing out on the benefits of medical research funding and trials.
  5. UK nationals living in the EU losing their right to free healthcare under the S1 scheme at a potential cost for the NHS of up to half-a-billion pounds.
  6. Loss of free healthcare for British tourists when travelling in the EU.
  7. Reduced ability to respond to pandemics.
  8. Long-term loss of financial resources as a result of reduced UK economic growth;

and that only by remaining in the EU can the UK effectively avoid these problems.

Conference further believes that:

  1. NHS and Social Care services are vital public services that Liberal Democrats value and are absolutely committed to supporting.
  2. The NHS should be a universal service free at the point of use, not a profit-driven provision with access dependent on ability to pay.
  3. Deeply damaging Conservative cuts to local authority budgets for social care, early help and public health, are short-termist and must be reversed.
  4. Previous Liberal Democrat initiatives to improve social care and achieve parity of esteem for mental health have stalled under the Conservatives and need to be fully implemented.
  5. Insufficient attention or priority has been given to tackling persistent staff shortages in nursing, mental health and across the wider care system.

Conference resolves that our overall priorities should be:

  1. Starting well and staying well: improving access to proven public health interventions, and intervening early to give every child a healthy start in life.
  2. Continuing the work that we began in government to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health.
  3. Delivering better, joined-up services for intensive users of services, and strengthening local accountability.
  4. Recognising the contribution of NHS and care staff by improving access to flexible working and training, and respecting their professionalism.

Conference therefore endorses policy paper 137, Save the NHS and Social Care by Stopping Brexit, as a statement of Liberal Democrat policies on health and social care, and in particular welcomes its proposals to:

  1. Stop Brexit to guarantee continued access to medicines and treatments, reverse the loss of key staff and create the economic conditions in which Health and Social Care services can be properly funded.
  2. Invest in Health and Social Care sustainably, restoring the cuts to key services through:
    1. In the near-term, raising a further 1p on the £ from income tax (around £6 billion a year) in addition to matching last year's increase to NHS budgets; we will use this additional £6 billion to meet immediate priorities in social care, reverse cuts to public health and invest in mental health.
    2. In the medium-term, establishing 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.
  3. Give every child a healthy start in life, supporting young people and their families to eat healthily, be more active and develop their skills and resilience by:
    1. Introducing a new statutory requirement for public health interventions evaluated as cost effective by NICE to be available to qualifying people, within three months of publication of guidance.
    2. Ensuring that every child who is eligible for free school meals has access to a 'Wellbeing Hour', at least an hour a day of free activities to improve their health and wellbeing, such as sports clubs, cooking lessons and mindfulness classes.
    3. Giving councils greater powers to prevent new fast food outlets or High Fat Salt and Sugar content advertising within 500m of a school, and new traffic management powers to tackle air pollution, support the 'daily mile' and encourage safer outdoor play.
    4. Aiming to make England the safest country to have a baby in, granting every family a single maternity health professional by 2025 for continuity of care.
    5. Restoring funding of early help services for children in need, and establishing ACE ('Adverse Childhood Experience') Hubs.
    6. Investing in a more coherent and evidence-based strategy to reduce harm from alcohol addiction by expanding public health services for addicts, including introducing minimum unit pricing in England.
    7. Introducing the co-production of wellbeing and health programmes by health bodies and councils in council run assets such as parks and libraries.
  4. Help people to access reliable health advice swiftly, and make more informed decisions about their own health by:
    1. Guaranteeing a same day phone or video appointment with a healthcare professional at a local GP practice, to deter people from presenting at A&E with minor complaints because they can't get a GP appointment for two weeks.
    2. Developing a 'health programme' of appointments every five to ten years with health advisers - to improve uptake of screening.
    3. Developing the role of high street community pharmacies into a front line for health services.
  5. Deliver our goal of parity between mental and physical health care, by:
    1. Making prescriptions for people with chronic mental health conditions available for free on the NHS, as they are for other long-term conditions.
    2. Investing in mental health facilities so that no-one is forced to travel unreasonable distances away from home.
    3. Supporting college and university students to stay mentally healthy, requiring universities to make quality mental health services accessible to their students.
    4. Implementing the recommendations of the Wessely review of the Mental Health Act, applying the principle of 'care not containment', while ensuring an emergency mental health bed is always available if needed.
  6. Create a joined-up system of care which meets the needs of long-term or intensive users of services, by:
    1. Ensuring there is always local accountability for commissioning decisions by applying the principle of local government leading on the commissioning of both health and care services, where these are currently commissioned by CCGs.
    2. Introducing a statutory guarantee of regular respite breaks and a package of carer benefits including free leisure centre access and self-referral to socially prescribed activities and courses.
    3. Creating a national target that the gap in life expectancy for people with learning disabilities should be reduced by one per year, each year.
  7. Tackle the NHS and Social Care recruitment and retention crisis, and improve staff wellbeing, by:

    1. Targetting extra help for nursing students, starting with bursaries for specialities where shortages are most acute such as mental health, linked to clinical placements in geographies that are under-staffed.
    2. Funding an EU recruitment campaign and ending the Government's inflexible £30,000 earnings threshold for overseas workers, which rules out many care workers.
    3. Recognising the equally important contribution of social care staff through a new professional body for care workers and improved training and career development.
    4. Supporting the mental wellbeing of NHS and Social Care staff through mental health first aid training in all health and care settings, and a dedicated mental health support service giving confidential advice and support 24 hours a day.
    5. Monitoring working conditions for care workers to promote good practice and take action against exploitative practices by care providing agencies.
    6. Ensuring support for staff who whistleblow on practices which put at risk the wellbeing of patients and service users.
  8. Supporting children and young people with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) to succeed at school by:

a) Ending the crisis in SEND funding by reversing cuts to core school budgets and providing additional funding for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), as set out in Policy Paper 135, Eradicating Race Inequality.

b) Ensuring that the support set out in a child's EHCP is led by and based upon the evidence of professionals, and is specific, relevant and individually tailored to the needs of each child, with enhanced reviews at each key transition point in a child's life.

c) Ensuring that no parent waits more than 12 weeks for the outcome of their child's assessment for an EHCP, whilst strengthening the enforcement of the existing requirement that all EHCPs are in place within 20 weeks of the date they were requested.

d) Creating a national SEND strategy to support the joined-up provision of education and care services for children with SEND.

Applicability: England only; except 1. (lines 51-54) and 7. b) (lines 136-138) which are Federal.

Mover and summation of motion: 16 minutes combined; movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 4.

The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00 Monday 2 September; see page 6. Amendments selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Sunday's Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 Saturday 15 September; see page 3.

In addition to speeches from the platform, voting members will be able to make concise (maximum one minute) interventions from the floor during the debate on the motion. See pages 3 and 4 for further information.

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