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Monday, 4 May 2015

Lib Dems pledge £227m for health equipment

Liberal Democrats will use the £227m fine imposed on Deutsche Bank for rigging the Libor rate to fund investment in lifesaving health equipment. The party will use the money to upgrade and replace high value NHS machines, including CT scanners and MRI scanners, to help diagnose and treat patients faster.This funding is in addition to the £8bn-a-year extra funding the Liberal Democrats will make available to the NHS – a party ‘red line’ in any coalition negotiations.

The Liberal Democrats say they will also use £50m from a fine imposed to invest in regional air ambulance services. This money could be used to buy an additional helicopter, provide 24/7 emergency, or upgrade helipads at hospitals – although it is up to local groups how they spend the cash the party says. It is part of wider Liberal Democrat plans to divide £50m, from the £227m fine levied on Deutsche Bank, equally between Britain’s 20 air ambulance trusts.

The Lib Dems say they will split the one-off Libor fine in the following way:
  • £177m on a major equipment fund to better treat and diagnose serious conditions, like cancer and strokes.
  • This works out at £148m for England, £15m for Scotland, £8.6m for Wales and £5m for Northern Ireland.
  • £50m divided between the 20 air ambulance trusts in the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Investing in new equipment for hospitals will drastically improve patient outcomes and save thousands of lives a year. This additional investment in our health service further illustrates the Liberal Democrat’s commitment to the NHS. We are the only party to commit to the £8bn-a-year extra the health service needs and this money will further help patients get the treatment they deserve."

"When banks are fined it is only right we use the money to improve vital public services and fund the organisations that do so much to build a fairer society." Mr Clegg added.

Air ambulances save hundreds of lives each year but rely almost solely on donations from the local community. For example, London’s Air Ambulance is currently running a campaign to secure a second helicopter to provide substantially improved coverage to the capital’s 10 million residents. As of March 2015, the charity was£2.35m short of the total funding required. A £2.5m donation would secure the helicopter.

Speaking about the pledge for Air Ambulances A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: "Air ambulance saves lives and helps the emergency services deal with some of the most difficult incidents, in some of the most hazardous conditions. This money will give our air ambulance trusts the power to improve the incredible service they already offer our communities. It will allow trusts to buy a new helicopters, upgrade their helicopters or improve their helipads. This would not be possible without the Liberal Democrats and further illustrates our commitment to build a stronger economy and fairer society."