Tag Archives: nhs funding

Government under increasing pressure to fund social care

This blog is a week late – but I’ve been busy! I wanted to highlight the Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee report published July 4th. This cross-party group of Peers calls for an immediate investment of £8 billion pounds into our care services “to restore social care to acceptable standards”.

North Devon, as many areas of the country, has an ageing population. Many move here to retire, and then as they enter their twilight years increasingly rely on stretched care services. I have been meeting with care providers and care users – there is a lot that needs improving in North Devon and it comes down to funding. £8 billion more for our care services nationally would make a real difference in North Devon.

In England, over a million vulnerable older people do not have proper care support. However, in Scotland, where health and social services are a devolved matter, care is free for the over 65s.

Many family and friends in England have caring responsibilities as their loved one does not meet the criteria for social care. This is wrong. The report highlights that most unpaid carers are women. 63% of women who care are aged between 50-64 and care for at least 50 hours a week. Our society is being propped up by the unpaid work of millions of carers.

I welcome another recommendation of the report, notably that a further £7 billion a year should be spent to extend free personal care to all by 2025. This would include help with cooking, washing and dressing. We need an integrated health and care system, with care paid for out of taxes. Any of us could need care at any time – this should not be a lottery where some get good care and others not.

Key findings are here, and include that the lack of funding means “local authorities are paying care providers a far lower rate for local authority-funded care recipients than self-funded care recipients, and those care providers with a high proportion of local authority-funded care recipients are struggling to survive.” North Devon in a nutshell.

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Reject! Reject! Reject! We Demand Better

There is a lot of anger about in British politics today. But I believe we Liberal Democrats are not angry enough.

We write a whole pamphlet on Demanding Better, and pass an entire motion on what we want to Demand Better.

But we don’t condemn. We don’t say what we believe is rotten in the practice of government in Britain and the way it has allowed the decline in the state of our nation.

We won’t convince people about what we want until we say what we reject.

So what do we fiercely reject? These are what rouses most anger in me.

  1. The leaders of both main parties allowing the threat of leaving the EU to go on for nearly three years, and still choosing to risk a no-deal Brexit rather than unambiguously giving the people the final say in a People’s Vote.
  2. That so many top elected politicians appear to scheme for their own and their kind’s advancement instead of putting the needs of the country first.
  3. That the Government squanders the country’s resources on preparing for Brexit while ignoring the wish of ordinary people for secure lives without fear for the future, as well as the despair of industrialists facing continued uncertainty.
  4. The attitude of the Conservative Government in letting the weakest in society go to the wall. So ordering everybody regardless of circumstances to take any job they can find and look after themselves, and refusing adequate welfare benefits to those who struggle.
  5. The lack of response by this Government to the evidence of there being four million children now living in poverty here, and of the increasing necessity for poor families to use food banks, a disgrace in this rich country.
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What would we do without the NHS?

Our family has used the NHS more this year than ever before – all five of us have seen consultants for a range of ailments.

Yesterday my husband saw the Haematology team to be told his cancer was in remission. We left the hospital grateful for the good prognosis, and thankful that we lived in a country with high-quality health care. Over the course of his treatment, from hospital stays to bone marrow biopsies, from chemotherapy to scans, we have been impressed with the professionals overseeing his care. We have not been made bankrupt through high medical bills and he had time off work for his recovery. It was horrendous and worrying, but the NHS was there for us.

However, lack of government funding means that not everyone is getting the same quality of care we have experienced. Recent stories in the papers highlight the shortfall now being experienced by many hospital trusts. There was a combined overspend of around £850 million by ten NHS hospital trusts in England in 2018. Funding per patient has been cut year by year since 2010.

The data is harrowing. Whilst my husband had a good experience with his cancer treatment, the statistics show many others do not.

Four of the cancer waiting-time standards were failed: two-week GP referral to first outpatient appointment; 14-day referral to first outpatient – breast symptoms; 62-day (urgent GP referral) waiting time target for first treatment; and 62-day screening from service referral.

These waiting times didn’t apply in the same way to us as my husband was hospitalised with a severe infection and in trying to figure out the cause of the infection, cancer was found. But for those being referred by GPs for outpatient appointments, the delay of treatment and the extended worry whilst waiting for an appointment adds even more stress to the uncertainty one experiences before receiving a diagnosis.

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3 April 2019 – the overnight press releases

Lib Dems: End short sentences now to fix prisons crisis

Responding to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee’s ‘Prison Population 2022’ report, published today , Liberal Democrat Justice spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

Our prisons are in crisis. They are so overcrowded that they are failing at their central purpose: to prevent crime and keep communities safe by rehabilitating offenders.

Even Tory Ministers now accept what the Liberal Democrats and the evidence have been saying for years: short prison sentences actually make people more likely to reoffend. Yet they are still locking up thousands of people for just a few weeks.

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Winning back former south-western strongholds: looking beyond Brexit

As a member in the south-west of England I am acutely aware of how we have fallen behind in the rural areas of England where we used to be able to garner a large amount of support. The south-west has a quite rare mixture of very rural communities and a long liberal tradition. In fact, my own constituency of Tiverton and Honiton (now a deep blue Tory area) was once partly represented by Lord Palmerston who was the MP for Tiverton while Prime Minister. Given the past support in the south-west …

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A gentle ramble through Mrs May’s arithmetic…

I’m a mathematician by training, and work professionally with numbers. And, because I find testing arithmetic projections entertaining, I thought that I might play with the proposed “£20 billion for the NHS”. See what you think.

Firstly, I should note that that £20 billion isn’t for you, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, although the Barnett Formula might mean that there is more money available for you too.

I’ll assume that the BBC’s figure of £114 billion for NHS England’s budget is accurate, and note that the Office for Budget Responsibility is predicting that inflation will be fairly constant at 2% per annum …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 43 Comments

82% back increase in taxes to fund NHS

Several NHS stories have caught my eye over the past week, and I wanted to bring them together into a blog that emphasises, yet again, that our NHS needs funding, and needs it soon. I have a heightened awareness now, having travelled the length and breadth of North Devon over recent weeks and seen the lack of provision in the communities there, with the nearest hospital for some being an hour away – and the nearest hospital for many non-urgent appointments being two hours away.

The NHS matters to all of us and needs sorting. We as Lib Dems are proposing a 1p rise in income tax to fund health and social care services. A poll announced yesterday in the Mirror shows that 82% of the population would back a 1p rise in National Insurance to fund the NHS. In answer to the question, “Would you be willing to change your vote in favour of a party who pledged additional NHS funding?” 18% of the respondents said ‘definitely’ and 33% said ‘probably’.

We set out our plan to put 1p on income tax in our 2017 manifesto. Our plan includes an eventual restructuring of National Insurance contributions with ring-fenced money for Health and Social Care. It is party policy that the NHS needs funding and taxes will have to be raised to do it. In the ComRes Mirror poll, almost an equal number of Tory (81%) and Labour (86%) voters agree.

This ComRes poll follows on the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Health Foundation joint report released two weeks ago showing that

Just to keep the NHS providing the level of service it does today will require us to increase spending by an average 3.3% a year for the next 15 years – with slightly bigger increases in the short run to address immediate funding problems.

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“Let’s take back control of our money and fund the NHS instead”

Sounds familiar? Time to make some sense of this slogan.

As shown here before, Brexit has already, and, if carried through, will continue to inflict massive economic damage to UK household incomes, tax revenues, and public spending potential.

According to the Bank of England, the British GDP is already £20 billion smaller than it would have been after a remain-vote. This is consistent with the 0.5% GDP growth underperformance of the UK compared to the G7 since 2016 (1% of GDP is equivalent to £20 billion). Given the UK’s previous position at the top of the G7 growth …

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Children’s mental health – the Government is not getting it right

I’m following up my post from February on children’s mental health and the Government’s Green Paper on the issue.  Yesterday, the Education Committee and Health & Social Care Committee issued a joint statement saying that

The Government’s proposed Green Paper on Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health lacks ambition and will provide no help to the majority of those children who desperately need it.

Having three teenage girls, this rams home. The girls tell me of the myriad of mental health issues going on around them – peers self-harming; experiencing psychosis; anorexia; depression; anxiety; the list goes on. This is their world, it is our world, and we are failing our young people.

The Government is rolling out Trailblazer pilot schemes, but it is too little and not being done quickly enough. Hundreds of thousands of children are missing out on the help they need now. I recently spoke with someone who works in CAMHS and she lamented the lack of provision locally for the girls she was working with. Staff know the pressures, parents are living with the pressures, young people are suffering needlessly.

The need for more resource in schools to support young people was highlighted, with the report saying existing CAMHS staff could not do any more than they are already doing. People are stretched to capacity.

Participants in the workshops highlighted exam pressure as being a major cause of mental ill-health. The report suggests the Government needs to commission a study on the effect of our exam-based system on mental health.

Young people excluded from school are far more prone to mental ill-health, but the Green Paper does not address this issue. How can we better meet the needs of these young people?

A major worry for many parents is the transition from children’s to adult mental health services. It is not happening. Young people are falling through the gaps and not receiving the services they need as they enter adulthood. Currently, young people transition at 18, but the report suggests that 25 would be a more appropriate age. What is scary is that seemingly a third of young people drop out of mental health care when they turn 18 and don’t make the transfer to adult services.

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Growth in infant mortality highlights desperate pressures on the NHS

The annual statistics on stillbirths, infant deaths and childhood deaths in England and Wales were published yesterday by the government. The report also includes data on the causes of death and information on key risk factors.

This report evidences the first two-year increase in infant mortality rates in England and Wales for the last 30 years. Former Health Minister and Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb said:

Infant mortality has been in steep decline for over 30 years. However, this success cannot lead to complacency.

Figures released today show there is a trend towards increased infant mortality rates over the last two years. Losing a child is one of the most heart-breaking experiences imaginable. The government must urgently examine the cause and what might be driving this disturbing reversal of historic falls in infant mortality. The fact that the NHS is under such strain may well be contributing to this.

That is why the Liberal Democrats want to put a penny in the pound on income tax, to maintain and improve standards in the NHS.

At Spring Conference, a motion was passed celebrating the NHS at 70 and recognising the wonderful contribution of NHS staff.

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Autumn Budget – what our Spokespeople say

The Lib Dems have been hot off the mark with what this Autumn Budget doesn’t do.  Here are 7 failures.

And leading Lib Dems have been speaking out about what the budget really means:

Leader of the Lib Dems Vince Cable MP says

Each person in Britain is set to be £687 worse off per year compared to forecasts before the election.

And as living standards are squeezed, the Government is setting aside £3.7bn to cover the cost of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The Chancellor found more money in the Budget to plan for Brexit than he did for our struggling NHS, schools and police.

Liberal

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The Independent View: An apology from 38 Degrees

On 26th March, the staff team at 38 Degrees posted an image to our Facebook page, attempting to simplify the confusing debate on pledges to fund the NHS. Unfortunately, we got the numbers jumbled up and drew criticism from several different political parties – including Lib Dems on this website. This is an apology and an attempt to explain where we went wrong.

Our graph compared NHS funding pledges for 2015-16 from the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour, against the additional £8bn of funding that NHS England says it needs by 2020. We ended up comparing apples and pears. Lib Dems quite reasonably complained that presenting the information in this way obscured their flagship pledge to match that £8bn target by 2020. Both Labour and Conservatives have avoided matching that pledge.

Labour supporters also complained. We showed the Labour figure on the graph as £2.5bn – based on their pledge of £2.5bn in the “time to care” fund. But Labour says this £2.5bn is additional funding – £2.5bn on top of what the government has already said it’ll spend. And it’s due to be realised much sooner than 2020 (though it seems it’s disputed exactly when). So they argued that their bar on the graph should have shown them £2.5bn higher than the Conservatives or Lib Dems. Meanwhile, some Green Party and UKIP supporters complained that we’d failed to feature their positions at all.

It’s extremely hard to compare like-for-like pledges on NHS funding, given the different timescales and assumptions on which each of the parties claims are based. It’s well nigh impossible to compare them through the medium of one, simple bar chart which conveys all the relevant information.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

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.

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  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct - 1:40am
    Sorry for typos, it is one forty am!
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct - 1:37am
    Can I say this. Despite being involved on a more cross party trajectory in recent years post coalition and referendum, despite regarding cross party involvement...
  • User AvatarPatrick 22nd Oct - 12:00am
    Also, I'm thinking that now that Dr Phillip Lee has been given the justice brief, he has a great opportunity to prove his liberal credentials,...
  • User AvatarPatrick 21st Oct - 11:53pm
    Till otherwise proven with appropriate references, I'm willing to give Dr Phillip Lee the benefit of the doubt. And if someone will issue references that...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Oct - 10:25pm
    Adding to Expats comment, in his latest twitter comment (and in a letter to The Times) two days ago, Dr Lee stated, Dr Phillip Lee...
  • User Avatarexpats 21st Oct - 9:54pm
    George Potter, I have no brief for Dr. Lee but everything I've read shows him IN FAVOUR of rehabilitation for prisoners rather than 'hard labour'......