Norman Lamb jointly leads cross-party call for long-term NHS and Care review

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Liberal Democrat MP and former health minister Norman Lamb has organised a cross-party group of 90 MPs, including select committee chairs and former cabinet ministers, to write to the prime minister urging the government to establish an NHS and Care Convention to find a sustainable long-term settlement for these services.

The call has been backed by a high-profile group of 15 committee chairs, 22 former ministers, six former secretaries of state, and several prominent ex-shadow ministers and select committee members. The Convention would work on a cross-party basis, engaging with the public and the health and care workforce, to confront the mounting pressures in the system arising from an older population and growing demand for healthcare.

Ahead of the Autumn Budget on Wednesday, the MPs are urging the government to address the short-term challenges in the system, as well as endorsing the proposal for a cross-party approach to put these services on a stable long-term footing.

The initiative has been led by former Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb, the Conservative Chair of the Health Select Committee, Dr. Sarah Wollaston, and Labour’s former Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall.

It follows a meeting between the prime minister and a group of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MPs last February, in which Mrs May agreed to a discussion on the proposal with her advisors. However, the plans were interrupted by the General Election and no further progress has been made.

Since then, there have been further reports of patients and older people being let down by longer waiting times for treatment, unmet care needs, and pressure on mental health budgets, while the Care Quality Commission recently warned that the health and care system is “straining at the seams”.

Efforts to confront the long-standing funding challenges in health and care have been undermined by conventional party politics. In signing up to the letter, the group of MPs are putting forward a genuine and constructive offer to the prime minister to assist in finding an agreed way forward to avoid more people missing out on vital care and support.

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk and Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:

Tribal politics has failed to provide a solution to the existential challenges facing the NHS and social care. We know that the current situation is unsustainable, and these pressures will only get worse as we contend with an ageing population and rising demand for care and treatment.

This letter shows the strength of cross-party support for a new approach based on co-operation instead of political point-scoring. The fact that so many senior MPs and former cabinet ministers support this initiative is remarkable. Now the Government must act on it.

Dr. Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes and Chair of the Health Select Committee, said:

The funding and workforce challenges facing our NHS and social care services are immense. Finding a long term, sustainable solution must be raised up the government’s domestic agenda. The public want to see this resolved and this letter demonstrates the willingness of politicians to work constructively across party lines to make it happen.

I hope the Prime Minister will welcome this opportunity to build a consensus and deliver a long term solution for both the NHS and social care.

Leicester West MP Liz Kendall, former Shadow Care Minister, said:

Our population is ageing, more people need help and support and our care services desperately need more money to cope, yet any party that comes up with a significant proposal for funding social care risks their political opponents destroying them.

We could carry on like this for yet another parliament, and yet another election, or we could face up to reality: we will only get lasting change if we secure a cross-party approach.

* News Meerkat - keeping a look-out for Liberal Democrat news. Meerkat photo by Adair Broughton

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10 Comments

  • Liberal Maverick 19th Nov '17 - 3:55pm

    This is a welcome initiative but a more detailed Liberal policy is needed in the meantime.

    Extra taxation to fund the NHS is not going to be enough.

    Millions of people are adversely affected by cuts to local health services and the ridiculously high costs of social care.

    We as Liberals have to say something about this urgently.

    How will we improve access to GP services and reduce hospital waiting times?

    How will we help relieve the pressure on the nations 6 million unpaid carers?

    How will we improve the terrible pay and conditions of hard pressed care workers?

    How will we end the injustice of people having to sell their homes to pay for care?

    How will we ensure that people needing social care get first class care on time every time?

    I have probably missed something but that will do for as a start!

  • Little Jackie Paper 20th Nov '17 - 12:02am

    Andy Daer is right.

    I have no problem with the idea of a cross-party review. But if a party, ANY party, is simply going to dismiss out of hand the idea that property wealth is worth at least considering in the solutions then this is pointless. If we don’t want more deficits, and we don’t want more tax then where else is the funding?

    Theresa May’s idea may or may not have been a good one. But it deserved rather better than the estate agent stunt.

    Indeed I suspect that in 10-15 years we may well be dusting that idea off.

  • Little Jackie Paper any idea that hits the boomers in the pocket will make them squeal.

    I shudder at the hypocrisy of those in the party who attack the idea of using unearned wealth to pay for social care.

  • Peter Hirst 20th Nov '17 - 1:47pm

    I think that some sort of hypothecation so each Party shows clearly what amount of tax revenues goes on health, education and benefits would more clearly delineate them and help the electorate to decide who to support.

  • William Fowler 20th Nov '17 - 2:01pm

    The idea that Corbyn is going to back the Conservatives to raise funds for health and care is hilarious. Fairest way seems to be to decrease the overall rate of NI but expand it to all sources of income, capital gains etc and no upper income or age limit… in fact you may as well get rid of NI altogether and just fiddle with the income tax rates/bands (and base pensions and benefits on number of years residence or number of years that income has been declared)… there are huge swathes of allowances, roll-overs etc that could also be dumped to radically simplify the taxation system and yet increase the amount generated.

    I know quite a lot of people who have spent their savings, fiddled ownership of their homes, etc and then decided they will spend their later years in a child-like state of dependency on the State (ultimately you get chucked in a council car home that a mate reckoned being shot in the head was preferable).

  • @ William Fowler ” The idea that Corbyn is going to back the Conservatives to raise funds for health and care is hilarious.”

    I see yet another case of anti Corbynkneejerkitis has crept into this haven of radicalism, LDV………. though I’m puzzled about your mate being lucky enough to obtain a Council garage to indulge his private fantasies in..

  • Diana Hockaday 22nd Nov '17 - 9:12am

    Well-done Norman! I am going through the so called “care” system and am appalled. at 1.wasted money . 2.high bar to. qualify for payment towards care in community costs.3. Being allocated to a care agency that ” requires improvement”(cqc report) on release from nursing home/hospital 4. Lack of district nurses to carry out nursing recommendationsof podiatristand which agencycarers are forbidden to do leaving me having to fight for appropriatecare and ending up withMRSA infection.5.Ambulance transport for appointments etc so poor that I pay for private wheel chair taxis to avoid painful journeys.6.I pay £500 a week for care which is not taken into account when assessing tax or grant payments

  • Simon Banks 20th Dec '17 - 9:24am

    While property and large bank balances ought to be considered alongside earnings as a source of funding public services, we should think carefully about what we mean by “unearned wealth”. You have an aged parent, partner or friend. You care for them for years, unpaid or given a small payment less than 10% of what that care would cost from an agency. When problems multiply, you find yourself becoming untrained advocate to and co-ordinator for ten or so separate agencies that don’t talk to one another. Then the loved person dies and leaves you some money or property. To recompense adequately by grant for the caring would be difficult because of the bureaucracy involved in checking what was actually done, but at least the state could unscramble some of the unnecessary complications in the system and do more to help unpaid carers understand who does what.

    To address the main issue: Norman’s initiative is much needed. While “taking politics out of social care” (or the NHS) is a ridiculous slogan, since how much priority we give to health, and to what kind of health, and how it’s paid for, are political questions if anything is, too many decisions are taken on a purely one-party basis or by a handful of ministers who want a quick fix because they won’t be in that job a couple of years later. Some long-term common ground and some long-term thinking would be welcome. Good luck getting it from Corbyn and the Tory anti-public-service right.

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