Norman Lamb MP writes…Liberal Democrats will fight relentlessly for NHS to have funding it needs

Today Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England published his 5-year Forward Look, setting out the challenges facing our health and care system in the coming years.

It makes sobering reading.  Simon Stevens sets out the huge scale of the financial challenge facing us in the years ahead as we continue to adapt to an ageing population, and increasing numbers of people living longer with multiple chronic conditions.  We also need more investment to ensure that people with mental health problems can get the same standard of care and support as with physical health.

Earlier this month, the Liberal Democrats set out their priorities for the NHS.  We committed to investing at least £1bn extra in our health and care system in each year in the next parliament.  £500m of that will go to mental health to ensure mental health patients get fair treatment, and can access the support they need.  And by the end of the next parliament we will give each carer £250 a year to recognise the immense contribution they make to society.

We also made clear that we would be arguing strongly this year for significant additional funding for the health and care system as part of the Autumn Statement.  We are the only major party arguing for money next year for the NHS.  And Simon Stevens has today made our case for us in the most powerful terms possible.

I know that when I speak to voters in my North Norfolk constituency, and when I meet people across the country, health and care are consistently among their highest priorities for government investment.  But the Conservatives are not making the case for investment in health and care: they are just promising to maintain the current level of spending.  If that’s the deal, the NHS would crash.  Liam Fox has argued for an end to the NHS ringfence – but this could damage our NHS beyond recognition.

Labour, too, have not argued for any increase in funding next year.  In Wales Labour has cut NHS spending by 8%, missing targets on A&E and cancer treatment and presiding over the worst ambulance response times in the UK.  Over 13 years in government, Labour wasted money with PFI schemes and special favours to private companies.  What is more, they just don’t understand that you can’t secure the future of our NHS without securing our economic recovery too.

I am passionately committed to our National Health Service, and the role it plays in giving every person the opportunity to enjoy a decent and fulfilled life regardless of their health needs.

And I recognise, as most people do, that if we want to have a sustainable NHS which is able to provide good care to those in need, we have to pay for it.  Britain currently spends less than almost any other major country on its health and care system.

And we will be making the case relentlessly in the coming weeks to make sure the NHS gets the funding it needs next year so it can continue to provide excellent care to those in need.  Liberal Democrats want to create opportunity for everyone by building a stronger economy and a fairer society.  We cannot do this by neglecting our health and care system.


* Norman Lamb is MP for North Norfolk and was Liberal Democrat Minister of State at the Department of Health until May 2015. He now chairs the Science and Technology Select Committee

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  • Interestingly there is no criticism of the Tory NHS reforms in this piece, despite them acknowledging they have proven to be an expensive mistake. Only Liam Fox gets criticised, hardly a mainstream Tory figure, while Labour get both barrels.

    Anything to do with voting for the Tory reforms?

  • Kick the justice system up the backside and many health issue burdens on the NHS would reduce by at a guess 1/3

  • Of course we could have saved about 3 billion that could have been re-invested into infrastructure and front-line services, by not passing the Lansley Health & Social Care act.

  • Rabi Martins 23rd Oct '14 - 7:24pm

    My sentiments exactly David We can and must go further – be bolder in this area Norman Lamb has been an extra-ordinary Health Minister His decision to give Mental Health the high profile and priority, not to mention the other good work he has done since being assisgned this portfolio, is proof that only Lib Dems can be trusted to tackle issues that really matter to the people even if they are the difficult ones

    But we also have to be honest with the public and tell them just how much money we need to give them the NHS they want and deserve Last month figures published by Monitor showed a deficit of £167m had been run up in the first quarter of 2014-15 – above the £80m forecast. A total of 86 out of 147 trusts were in the red. This includes our Health Trust is Watford, one of our target constituencies

    I suspect promising a tax rise is the last thing Nick Clegg and Danny Alexandrer, not to mention Paddy Ashdown will want to see in our 2015 manifesto But I suggest if we took such a bold and honest stance the electorate might actually begin to forgive us for the tuition fees fiasco Opinion polls have shown that the one thing the public would be willing to pay extra tax for is health I don’t know if an Extra Penny in the Pound would be sufficient But whatever the amount the public would need to be promised that the additional amount raised through this measure would be ring fenced for use on the NHS I would also suggest that this penny or two in the pound should be added to National Insurance and not Income Tax

  • The NHS needs an extra £8bn a year according to the five year plan. The Lib Dems are proposing an extra £1bn of which £500m is already earmarked for new spending. So not really much more than a gesture.

    The problem is that NHS policy is driven through a prism of public sentiment about the NHS which means there can never be a serious debate about health provision. And at heart is really a lot of agreement – care should be as needed and (mostly) free at the point of use.

    Is it time that there started to be serious discussions about a Beveridge II type inquiry about the future of the NHS which could proceed on a cross party basis.

  • Stephen Donnelly 23rd Oct '14 - 9:32pm

    I wonder if any of Norman Lamb’s press releases pass the Turing test.

  • I don’t know how to articulate this properly but I would suggest that some treatments such as IVF should cease to be free but instead charged at cost, with the savings diverted to serious life threatening conditions. I have a rare chronic and progressive incurable condition. Incurable because UK sufferers are maybe a couple of hundred at most so research is not economic. I have had excellent NHS checks and temporarily effective surgery that delays the impact and I don’t expect more – private medicine is no good as there is still not the research demand worldwide. That’s my lot in life, tough, there are people 100 times worse off than me. But it does annoy me to see funding going into effectively lifestyle choices when there are so many higher priorities with mass impact. I sympathise with those who can’t have children; I don’t have any to my personal regret. So I don’t say deny the treatment, simply recover the costs.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Oct '14 - 5:14am

    Fighting relentlessly might mean pulling out of the coalition. We won’t get tarnished as quitters, it’s the Conservatives fault for morphing into UKIP. We shouldn’t enter a coalition with Labour either. Free, independent and united, the Liberal Democrats could be.

    It doesn’t matter if the Conservatives aren’t planning on going UKIP until after 2015, the talk of it is inspiring anxiety into people. Osborne is threatening mega cuts and Cameron is damaging relations with the continent.

    However, overall it is a good article. Conservatives are weak on the NHS and Labour are weak on securing its funding. It’s not just rhetoric, people are genuinely anxious about Labour’s ability to run an economy.

  • Stephen Donnelly
    I was so ignorant I had never heard of The Turing Test.
    Good definition here —

    Now I see what you mean!!!

  • Hywel 23rd Oct ’14 – 8:14pm
    The NHS needs an extra £8bn a year according to the five year plan. The Lib Dems are proposing an extra £1bn of which £500m is already earmarked for new spending. So not really much more than a gesture.

    Howell — you sum this up very neatly.

    The UK can afford an extra £8bn a year.
    £3bn of that could be found from not replacing Trident, according to CND.
    Another £1bn a year could be realised by selling off MoD land in those areas where there is a housing shortage, high land values and brownfield developments on former MoD land would be so much better than greenfield developments.
    Another £1bn a year could be achieved by requiring the Windsor family to live off their own wealth and thus restore to the wider community the wealth of the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster.
    Another £1bn a year could be achieved by ending subsidies to former colonial status symbols like The Falklands.
    Another £1bn could be achieved by getting the nuclear industry to clear up after itself rather than the tax-payer having to foot the bill for decommissioning the nuclear dinosaurs that have not produced any electricity for years but remain a danger to our children and grandchildren.
    The last £1bn could be taken from the Tobacco Manufacturers (the people who have made vast profits by loading the costs onto the NHS of lun g cancer, heart disease, COPD and a long list of additional cancers).

    I am not against tax rises — but a not very radical “base budget review” across the whole of existing UK government expenditure could provide the cash now without tax rises.
    Of course a few sacred cows might have to be humanely destroyed on the way such as the nonsens of the Royal Family and the need for the MoD to own more than 1% of all the land in the UK.

  • Peter Watson 24th Oct '14 - 9:01am

    Norman Lamb writes, “Liam Fox has argued for an end to the NHS ringfence – but this could damage our NHS beyond recognition.”
    Didn’t Lib Dems argue against ring-fencing the NHS budget before the 2010 election?

  • John Tilley writes :
    “Of course a few sacred cows might have to be humanely destroyed…”
    Indeed. Like the EU ‘mafia’, who have just demanded £1.7 billion with menaces to pay up in weeks !! That’s £1.7 billion *LESS* for the NHS ??
    We need out of this god forsaken EU madness,.. and soon.

  • John Critchley 24th Oct '14 - 1:11pm

    We could take a look at VAT exemptions (zero rated) and cancel a lot of them. On foods retain the exemption for only basic fresh foods (e.g. meat, fish, vegetables, fruit). It may also help the obesity and diabetes issues.

  • Stevan Rose 24th Oct '14 - 7:56pm

    Aoart from The Falklands I’m with John Tilley on the rest. I would do like the French and include the Falklands and the other remaining colonies as an integral part of the UK, then apply for EU funding for them.

    The EU demand for more money is unfortunate timing but being in support of the EU doesn’t mean you meekly accept everything they say. They are also apparently demanding money from poor old Greece to give to Germany and France. There are a few others with surcharges too. Saying no is an option I hope the Coalition will go with.

    You could certainly put VAT on cakes and fats and remove it from pure fruit juices. Perhaps on books and newspapers too since it already exists on eBooks.

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