Health Priorities in the Liberal Democrats’ Election Manifesto

On 10 June 2024, the Liberal Democrats became the first of the major political parties in the UK to launch their election manifesto, For A Fair Deal. The manifesto emphasised their approach to health and social care, advocating for significant reform to ensure an equal and high-quality healthcare system for all.

The Current Healthcare Landscape

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto painted a stark picture of the current state of the NHS, attributing its deterioration to the policies of the Conservative Party, SNP in Scotland, and Labour in Wales. With over 100,000 staff vacancies in England, long waiting times, and a crisis in staff retention, the manifesto claimed that patient safety was increasingly compromised.[1] The manifesto also criticised the difficulties in securing timely GP appointments and accessing NHS dental services, alongside widespread issues in emergency response times and treatment delays.[2]

Health Priorities

The manifesto outlined the Liberal Democrats’ plan to revitalize the UK’s healthcare system. Emphasising the need for transformative change, the Liberal Democrats put forward a series of health priorities designed to ensure that every individual receives high-quality healthcare, free at the point of use and accessible whenever and wherever needed.[3] The Party stated that this approach was essential for both individual freedom and national prosperity.[4]

The Liberal Democrats also pledged to reform social care for care users, support care workers and unpaid carers. The manifesto outlined plans to forge a new consensus on funding for care and increase investment in order to save, recognising that providing care reduces demand on more expensive NHS services.[5]

Key Commitments

The Liberal Democrats pledged to tackle both the front and back door crisis to the NHS by investing in public health and fixing the crisis in social care.[6] Some key commitments set out in the manifesto include:[7]

Improving Access to GP Services:

  • Ensuring that everyone can see a GP within seven days, or within 24 hours if urgently needed. This will be supported by the recruitment of an additional 8,000 GPs.
  • Providing everyone over 70 and those with long-term conditions access to a named GP, ensuring continuity of care.
  • Removing top-down bureaucracy to allow practices to hire necessary staff and invest in training.
  • Establishing a Strategic Small Surgeries Fund to sustain services in rural and remote areas.

 

Enhancing Dental Care:

  • Guaranteeing NHS dental care for urgent and emergency needs, ending the issue of ‘dental deserts’.
  • Guaranteeing appointments for all those who need a dental check before commencing surgery, chemotherapy or transplant.
  • Introducing supervised toothbrushing in nurseries and schools, and eliminating VAT on children’s dental products to combat tooth decay.

 

Mental Health Services:

  • Creating mental health hubs for young people in every community and offering regular mental health.
  • Putting a dedicated, qualified mental health professional in every school and ending out-of-area mental health placements.
  • Making prescriptions for chronic mental health conditions free on the NHS and improving perinatal mental health support.
  • Modernising the Mental Health Act to strengthen people’s rights, give them more choice and control over their treatment and prevent inappropriate detentions.

 

Cancer Care:

  • Ensuring 100 per cent of patients start cancer treatment within 62 days from urgent referral.
  • Replacing aging radiotherapy machines and increasing their number.
  • Recruiting more cancer nurses to support patients throughout their treatment.
  • Passing a Cancer Survival Research Act requiring the Government to coordinate and ensure funding for research into the cancers with the lowest survival rates.
  • Launching a new prostate cancer screening programme for those at higher risk.

 

Public Health and Prevention:

  • Investing in public health to help people spend five more years of their life in good health.
  • Establishing a ‘Health Creation Unit’ in the Cabinet Office to lead work across government to improve the nation’s health and tackle health inequalities.
  • Expanding social prescribing and investing in community projects to combat loneliness and improve overall health.

 

Workforce and Infrastructure

  • Establishing a ten-year retention plan for NHS staff, making flexible working a right from day one, and fixing the work visa system for healthcare workers.
  • Implementing a ten-year plan to invest in hospitals and primary care estates to address infrastructure issues like crumbling roofs and outdated buildings.

 

Technology and Innovation:

  • Investing in new technologies to improve patient care and free up staff time, ensuring all IT systems used by the NHS are interoperable.
  • Expanding virtual wards and investing in innovative digital tools for patient care at or closer to home.

 

Social Care:

  • Creating a new Carer’s Minimum Wage, boosting the minimum wage for care workers by £2 an hour.
  • Creating a career ladder to allow flexibility to work across the NHS and social care.
  • Creating a Royal College of Care Workers to represent this skilled workforce.
  • Increasing Carer’s Allowance and expanding eligibility for it.
  • Making caring a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Introducing a Young Carers Pupil Premium as part of an ‘Education Guarantee’ for young carers.

 

The Liberal Democrats have confirmed that their plans for government will be funded by reforming Capital Gains Tax to close loopholes ‘exploited’ by the top 0.1 per cent wealthiest individuals in the country.[8] The Party has estimated that these reforms would raise £5.2 billion a year in 2028-29, to invest in the NHS and improve local health services.[9]

 

 

BREVIA HEALTH PROVIDES STRAIGHTFOWARD PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS SUPPORT TO BUSINESSES AND CHARITIES OPERATING IN THE HIGHLY REGULATED UK HEALTHCARE SECTOR.

Discover how Brevia can help you and your organisation by viewing our Health services, contacting the Brevia Team on 020 7091 1650 or emailing us at contact@brevia.co.uk

 

Notes

[1] The Liberal Democrats, ‘For A Fair Deal: Manifesto 2024’, 10 June 2024, link

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] The Liberal Democrats, ‘Fairly reforming Capital Gains Tax to save our NHS’, 10 June 2024, link

[9] Ibid.

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