The Liberal Democrats have announced that they will protect the National Health Service budget in the next Parliament. Under plans to be announced in the party's manifesto, NHS spending will rise by at least the rate of inflation over the next Parliament.
As well as protecting the NHS budget, the Liberal Democrats have said they will also pool health and social care budgets. This would help make care more tailored towards individual patients and reduce inefficiencies.
This follows the recent announcement, by party leader Nick Clegg, of a Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment to establish a mental health research fund worth £50m per year by 2020.
Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said: "The NHS was a Liberal idea and we are proud to be committed to protecting funding over the next Parliament. In this parliament the Government has had to make difficult decisions to cut the deficit and build a stronger economy. We have protected the NHS and Liberal Democrats will continue to protect the NHS budget from cuts in the next parliament."
"We are clear that a crucial part of building a fairer society, where there is opportunity for everyone, is ensuring that once the deficit is eliminated public services are protected. Labour have said that this is irresponsible, and in Wales they have cut the NHS budget by 8%. They are wrong and will be judged on this record."