The Liberal Democrats say they are the first party to present a plan to meet the financial needs of the NHS as set out by Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England in his Five Year Forward View.
To achieve this boost in funding by 2020/21, Liberal Democrats say they will do three things:
- We will baseline into the budget of the NHS, the additional £2bn that Liberal Democrats secured in the Autumn Statement for 2015/16.
- In addition to this funding we will invest a further £1bn in real terms in 2016/17, as we set out at our Autumn Conference. This will be paid for by capping pensions tax relief for the richest pensioners (saving 500m), aligning divend tax with income tax for those earning more than £150,000 (saving £400m) and scrapping the Conservative shares for rights scheme (saving £100m).
- Once we have finished the job of tackling the deficit in 2017/18, we will increase health spending in line with growth in the economy.
As well as increasing NHS funding, the Liberal Democrats say they will also commission a non-partisan fundamental review of NHS and social care finances in 2015 before the next spending review, in order to assess the pressures on NHS budgets. They say they will focus extra funding on two key priorities that will help reduce cost pressures in other areas to help NHS funding remain sustainable. These priorities are:
- Mental health to end the discrimination against mental health and have pledged £500m extra a year to support this from 2015/16 onwards.
- Prevention. Keeping people healthier for longer and supporting people to stay as healthy as possible and to receive care closer to home.
The Liberal Democrats say they are the only party to set out a credible road map for how we will safeguard the NHS over the next parliament. They say that neither Labour or the Tories have a credible response to the funding challenges that the NHS faces. Labour have pledged £2.5bn only to be fully introduced by the third year of the next parliament and have not committed to any additional real term increases beyond that, while the Conservatives have made no specific real terms funding commitments. A Lib Dem spokesman said: "Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to increasing NHS funding by £8bn in real terms by 2020."