Speech: Ed Davey launches Liberal Democrat manifesto with plan to save the NHS

10 Jun 2024

The Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has now launched his party’s general election manifesto by outlining a plan to save health and care services.

At the heart of the Liberal Democrat manifesto is a £9 billion rescue package to save the NHS and social care. The party says they will be the boldest proposals of any party to tackle the crisis in our health services.

The 2024 Liberal Democrat manifesto is the first in the party’s history to include a dedicated chapter on care. Last week, Ed Davey unveiled plans to introduce free personal care and ensure nobody is forced to sell their home to pay for care. 

In his speech, Ed Davey spoke out about his personal experience of looking after his disabled son, and previously caring for his mother who died of cancer when he was a teenager.

Ed Davey’s speech can be found below: 


“Thank you Munira for that kind introduction.

“Munira is a fantastic local champion for the people of Twickenham, and a tireless leader on improving our education system and providing real support and opportunities to children and young people.

“Munira, I am so proud to call you a colleague and a friend. Thank you. And thank you all for coming here today to help me unveil the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

“It has been an intense couple of weeks finalising this 114-page document, packed full of detailed policies, all of them carefully costed.

“Of course I needed the occasional break, but when I asked my campaign team to find the odd activity to help me unwind, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for!

“It has been quite something, to be told by my team that I have become a bit of a “meme” on social media.

“And can I just say, to those who have suggested that my next campaign stop should be wrestling a crocodile or being fired out of a cannon… Please stop giving my campaign team these ideas!

“They really don’t need any encouragement, believe me! But what has been truly overwhelming, over the past week or so, have been the incredible messages I have received from people who have heard me talking about my experiences – caring for my mum when I was a teenager, and as Emily and I care for our wonderful son John today.

“Really humbling messages from people across the political spectrum and outside of politics altogether. Welcoming our focus on care and carers. And the most touching messages of all have come from other carers.

“People looking after their loved ones, who have got in touch to say “that’s my story too”.

“To say how refreshing it is – after so long feeling forgotten and ignored by people in power – to hear a politician talking about these issues, from personal experience.

“Your messages mean so much to me, because that’s exactly why I have been telling my caring story.

“Because it’s not just my story. It’s the story of millions of people across our United Kingdom. Looking after loved ones. Making sacrifices.

"Finding it exhausting sometimes. But also full of love. Caring has been in the shadows for far too long.

"And I am proud that as a party, we have brought it into the light. Like so many people, my caring story started young. I was nine when my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. My dad had died when I was four. Taken from us just a few months after being diagnosed with a cancer called Hodgkin lymphoma.

"So it was just my mum, my two brothers, and me. She battled it for years. But when I was 12, it spread to her bones. The doctors told her it was incurable. In the last 18 months or so, her pain was excruciating. She was confined to her bed.

"Caring for her became my life. Before school and after school. Giving her morphine for the pain. Helping her on and off the toilet. Sitting on her bed for hours, just talking to her. Trying to make the most of every minute.

“I was 15 when it finally took her. Visiting her on a totally unsuitable dementia ward. In my school uniform. When she died. I never called myself a young carer. I never thought of myself that way. I was just looking after my mum. Because she needed it. And because I loved her.

“And in the last few years, I’ve been privileged to meet many young carers, from all over the country – and I hear the same thing from them. All of their stories are very different. And yet in so many ways they are also the same.

“Whether it was the young woman who told me how hard it had been to concentrate at school, after nights spent looking after her dad, or the girl who said she sometimes feels like “nothing but a carer”. I know how that feels.

“And similarly, when I speak to parents looking after disabled children, or people caring for a parent or a partner who is ill or frail, I hear echoes of my own experiences caring for John.

“How close it makes you. What a special bond you share. But also how relentless it can feel. The physical challenges. The lack of a break. All the paperwork. The appointments. The phone calls.

“How often it can feel like no one understands. And how much of a difference just a little extra support can make. These are the experiences that we must bring out of the shadows.

“Because the truth is, that unless we properly value care, unless we properly support carers, we will never be able to fix the crisis in our NHS, or get our economy back on track.

“And that’s why I am so proud that the Liberal Democrats have put health and care at the heart of our campaign in this general election – and at the heart of our manifesto too. Because there is no doubt that both the NHS and care are in crisis. More than 6 million people are stuck on hospital waiting lists.

“People are waiting hours in pain for an ambulance to arrive, or weeks to see a GP or an NHS dentist – if they can even find one. Tens of thousands of cancer patients are waiting months to start urgent treatment. Months, when every day could make all the difference.

“Hospital roofs are literally crumbling, and the Conservatives have broken their promise to build 40 new ones. And talk to anyone in the NHS, and they will tell you: a major cause of the crisis in our health service is the crisis in social care.

“Right now, there are thousands of people stuck in hospital beds: well enough to be discharged, but unable to leave, because the care they need – at home or in a care home – simply isn’t there.

“After years of Conservative chaos and neglect, the scale of the challenge is enormous. But our manifesto doesn’t shy away from it.

“We are putting forward a bold, ambitious and fully-costed plan to tackle the health and care crisis from top to bottom. This is a manifesto to save the NHS.

“Giving everyone the right to see a GP within seven days, or within 24 hours if it’s urgent. And recruiting the extra doctors needed to make it happen.

“Improving access to dentists and pharmacists too – because we understand that if more people can get the early care they need locally, fewer people will end up in hospital in the first place.

“Giving cancer patients the care they deserve, with a cast-iron guarantee that they will start treatment within two months. And investing in radiotherapy machines, in more cancer nurses, and in cancer research to find the next breakthrough treatments.

“Finally treating mental health on an equal footing with physical health, with new mental health hubs for young people, regular mental health check-ups when people need them, and a dedicated, qualified mental health professional in every school.

“Investing in public health, because we know that it is far better – and far cheaper – to prevent illness than it is to treat it.

“And on care – we have an equally bold plan to make sure everyone gets the support they need: People who need care. The amazing care workers who provide it. And the unpaid family carers who provide it too.

“So we will introduce free personal care, embodying the same principles that underpin our NHS: where care is provided based on need, not ability to pay.

“We will value care workers properly and help to fill the more than 150,000 vacancies in social care, by introducing a new, higher minimum wage especially for care workers, and setting up a new Royal College of Care Workers.

“And we will give family carers a fair deal, starting by overhauling the broken Carer’s Allowance system so that it provides real financial support to those who need it.

“Just imagine what this would all mean for people across the country. Instead of being stuck in an overcrowded hospital ward, thousands of people could come home to be cared for by their family – with both the professional carers and the financial support they need to make it work.

“We can transform cancer care, and boost survival rates to among the best in the world. We can help people live more years of their lives in good health, with all the benefits that brings with it.

“We can make sure everyone can see a doctor or a dentist locally, when they need one – ending these appallingly long waiting times and taking the pressure off the rest of the NHS.

“We can get people off waiting lists and into work – getting our economy growing strongly again too.

“We can save our NHS. We can fix the care crisis. We can give people a fair deal.

“Now I know – when you look at the state of the NHS and care today, this might all seem a long way off. And there’s no doubt that it will take a lot of time and a lot of hard work to repair the terrible damage the Conservatives have done, over so many years.

“But our manifesto sets out how it can be achieved. And Liberal Democrat candidates across the country are ready and able to work tirelessly to achieve it.

“So every vote for the Liberal Democrats at this election is a vote to elect a strong local champion who will fight every day for the NHS and care.

“I am truly proud of the focus our manifesto puts on these issues. As a carer for most of my life, this is personal for me.

“And having met so many wonderful carers as I travel across our United Kingdom, I know it’s personal for millions of people.

“And let me just mention one other policy in our manifesto that means a lot to me personally.

“Restoring proper bereavement support for parents whose partners have died. You see, I remember how important the widow’s pension was for my mum, after my dad had died. I remember going for a walk with her and our dog every fortnight to collect it.

“We weren’t especially hard up, but it made a difference. It meant something. So you can imagine how angry I was when the Conservatives cut that support back in 2017. Knowing that other families like mine would only get a fraction of the support.

“It was the first thing I asked Boris Johnson about at PMQs when I became leader. And I am proud that in this manifesto we commit to reversing those cuts – and restoring proper support payments to parents like my mum.

“There’s so much more I’m proud of in our manifesto. Our clear plan to end the scandal of raw sewage being dumped into our rivers and onto our beaches – and to hold the water companies to account for the damage they’ve done.

“Our policies to solve the cost-of-living crisis for the long-term – from an emergency Home Energy Upgrade programme to cut people’s energy bills – to a National Food Strategy, including free school meals.

“Our commitment to restore proper community policing, and guarantee that every burglary will be attended by the police and investigated – so that everyone can feel safe in their own homes and walking down their own streets.

“Fixing our broken relationship with Europe, rebuilding the ties of trade and friendship, boosting our economy and restoring Britain’s role on the world stage.

“All these and more are crucial for delivering the fair deal the British people deserve.

“And they are what every Liberal Democrat MP elected on 4th of July will be fighting for in the next Parliament.

“But if we are truly to tackle the big challenges facing our country – from health to the environment, crime to the cost of living – there is one more part of our manifesto that is absolutely critical.

“Our policies to transform the nature of British politics itself. Ending First-Past-the-Post and replacing it with fair votes through proportional representation. Getting big money out of politics with a cap on donations to political parties.

“Shifting power out of the centre, so local decisions are made by and for the people and communities they affect.

“Putting real power in people’s hands, and holding the over-powerful properly to account. Because this election has to be about more than just a change of Government. We must do more than get the Conservatives out – essential though that is.

“We must transform our politics for good. So politicians have to respond to people’s dreams and desires. Because that is the only way we will bring the real change our country needs.

“That is the only way we will deliver a fair deal.

“A fair deal where everyone can afford a decent home somewhere safe and clean – with a comfortable retirement when the time comes.

“Where every child can go to a good school and have real opportunities to fulfil their potential.

“Where everyone can get the high-quality healthcare they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“That is the fair deal that runs throughout our manifesto. That is the fair deal the Liberal Democrats are fighting for.

“And at this election, every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to make it happen. Thank you.”


Notes to Editors:

The Liberal Democrat manifesto can be found here.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto costings can be found here.




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