Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat response to Autumn Statement NHS funding announcment

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:

“The Liberal Democrats have fought to make sure that extra funding for the NHS next year is in the Autumn Statement. Health minister Norman Lamb called on the Government to agree this money weeks ago and Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander have delivered.

“The easy choice would have been to put off this decision until after the election for the next Government to deal with, but that would have betrayed patients. The NHS needs this money urgently and we have acted in the national interest to make it a priority.

“Liberal Democrats want to create opportunity for everyone by building a stronger economy and a fairer society. That means properly funding our NHS for the future, and providing better care, both for physical and mental health.”

The funding will be in place from next April. After next year, the Liberal Democrats want to invest at least £1bn extra for the NHS in each year of the next Parliament, as well as carrying out a review of health and care budgets next year that involves the public and all parties.

Norman Lamb made his public call for more NHS funding on 11 November in an interview with the BBC. The story is here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30012406

Nick Clegg called publicly for extra NHS funding at his monthly press conference on 24 November. A transcript is below.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

Thanks very much for coming.  Before I take your questions, I just want to say a few words on a subject which is of huge concern, if not top concern to many, many of our fellow citizens, namely the – namely the NHS.  And I come to the view that we need to now agree a step change in the amount of financial support we give to the NHS in the years to come, for three principle reasons, really. 

Firstly, the sheer pressures which are now placed upon the NHS.  1.3 million more people going to Accident & Emergency departments than the last year of the last government.  1.2 million more in‑patients.  6.1 million more out‑patient appointments.  2,000 more patients in our ambulances every day, compared to a relatively short period of a time ago. 

Secondly, because of the pressures of an aging population.  This is a dilemma facing all health systems across the developed world, but if you consider that we have ten million more people over the age of 65 in our country now, that will rise to 15 million by, in about 20 years’ time, and will near double by 2050.  That places huge long‑term additional pressures, because of those demographic changes, on our NHS. 

I think the third reason why we need to enter into a step change in the funding provided to the NHS is because of the very compelling analysis, which is widely welcomed across all parties, in Simon Stevens’ report, published just a month ago, which set out what the pressures, all of those pressures I’ve alluded to, mean for the NHS over the next five years.

Now my party, as you know from our party conference, have already said that we believe that in the next parliament we should be providing at least £1 billion extra per year, over and above the existing trajectory of funding for the NHS, and that once we’ve dealt with the structural deficit in 2017‑2018, we want to see spending on public services, including on the NHS, rise in line with the growth in the economy.  But there is also an issue for this government, for this coalition government, about what we do now.  We’ve already announced, as Jeremy Hunt has set out in detail, £700 million to help the NHS deal with winter pressures this winter. 

Now I suppose some people might say we can leave it at that, let the next government after May deal with whatever pressures might arise next winter, in the winter of 2015.  But it is my view that this coalition government should be going one step further – surprising people if you like – and using the Autumn Statement to set aside money so that as guardians of the NHS, we not only look after the NHS on behalf of the country, and the people of our country, during this parliament, but we also make sure that we allocate money now. 

Norman Lamb, for instance, has suggested up to £1.5 billion of extra money to ensure that the NHS can deal with any winter pressures, and plan accordingly, which may arise next year as well.  So that is something which is very much on the agenda in our discussions within government as we prepare for the autumn statement.  And it is certainly my view, for all the reasons that I explained: the pressures on the NHS, demographic changes, and the very compelling analysis set out by Simon Stevens that we should, across the government, across all parties in the coalition government, make that financial commitment at the Autumn Statement.


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