The Liberal Democrats would launch a range of policies designed to bring health and social care together, including moving towards fully pooled local budgets, if they get into power at the general election.
The party’s manifesto places an emphasis on integration with a range of measure designed to streamline hospital and community healthcare and bring NHS and social care services together.
“We must set the highest standards in care with a well-trained and motivated workforce, and get health and care services to work together without artificial boundaries,” stated the document.
Policies outlined in the manifesto, launched today, include shifting responsibility for care policy and funding to the Department of Health in a effort to boost integration at a national level.
The party would bring key goals for public health, adult social care and healthcare into one framework to ensure local NHS services and councils work together.
Meanwhile, they would aim for full pooling of NHS and care budgets locally by 2018 and consult on a new legal duty for pooled budgets.
The Liberal Democrats promised their plans would ensure the NHS gets “the money it needs”, with a commitment to deliver at least an extra £8bn for the health service in England by 2020 and funding boosts for the three other UK nations.
“We must set the highest standards in care with a well-trained and motivated workforce”
Lib Dem manifesto
In the meantime the party would launch a “fundamental review” of NHS and social care funding later this year, if they get into power.
The manifesto document acknowledged the key role of primary care and community nursing, stressing most people’s experience of the NHS “is their local GP or the nurses and support staff who visit them at home or work in community clinics”.
The Liberal Democrats would want to see new joined-up health service with GP surgeries providing scans and blood tests and more hospitals with GP surgeries in A&E departments.
The party would also encourage the development of more “joined-up health providers” covering both hospital and community services.
In addition, it would explore ways to change NHS funding to encourage joined-up work and more preventative care, and “encourage health services to link up with local authority social care teams and voluntary services to join up care”.
The manifesto confirmed the party’s earlier pledge to “radically transform” mental health services, including “changing the way services are funded so they do not lose out in funding decisions in future”.
Other policies to make the UK “more mental health-friendly” include the launch of a “national wellbeing strategy” to cover all aspects of government policy, and a new public health campaign to promote steps people can take to improve their own mental resilience – described as “the wellbeing equivalent of the Five a Day campaign”.
The document also contains pledges to improve diagnosis and aftercare for conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems would back “social prescribing” of sport, arts and other activities to help tackle obesity, mental health problems and other health conditions.
Liberal Democrat party manifesto pledges on health:
- £8bn extra for the NHS in England by 2020 plus extra funding for the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Increase mental health spending in England by £500m a year by 2016-17 with investment in the other UK nations
- Make care policy and funding the responsibility of the Department of Health
- Launch a “fundamental review” of NHS and social care funding this year
- Get local agreement on full pooling of NHS and care budgets by 2018 and consult on a legal duty
- Combine public health, adult social care and health outcome frameworks into a single national “wellbeing outcomes framework”
- Better pay and conditions for care staff and measures to ensure care staff are properly trained
- Publish a national “wellbeing strategy” to cover all aspects of government policy
- Launch a public mental health awareness campaign along the lines of “Five a Day”
- Look into introducing free end-of-life social care for those on a local register
- Set clear goals for earlier diagnosis and improved aftercare for conditions like cancer and heart disease
- Promote evidence-based “social prescribing”
Find out which party has pledged what about nursing and the NHS on the Nursing Times’ special 2015 election web page