Supporting general practice: a statement from the Liberal Democrat party

GP magazine called on England's three main political parties to make a statement in support of general practice, to show their backing for a profession coping with a mounting crisis. Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb made the following statement.

Norman Lamb MP: GPs vital to future of NHS (Photo: Liberal Democrats)
Norman Lamb MP: GPs vital to future of NHS (Photo: Liberal Democrats)

GPs play a vital role in our communities. Alongside other frontline health workers, they are an essential part of the team, diagnosing illnesses, treating and caring for those in need, and providing compassion to people who are going through some of the most difficult times in their lives.

Liberal Democrats are committed to building a stronger economy and a fairer society, in which there is opportunity for everyone to get on in life. Supporting our health service so that it is properly funded and free at the point of use is central to that aim.

The Liberal Democrats are proud to have ringfenced health spending over the course of this Parliament. With an ageing population, and emerging medical challenges, such as the growth in long-term conditions, facing our health service it may be a given that protecting health spending is a sensible thing to do.

That was not, however, the case in 2010. The coalition has made sure that we have protected the health budget, but the Labour party said that this was irresponsible, and in Wales have cut the health budget by 8%. Sadly, on this crucial area there is simply not consensus.

When faced with these emerging challenges what is needed is to look at how we approach providing health care. We need big shifts in care: from repair to prevention, from fragmentation to integration, from impersonal to personal. That is why we are committed to providing better care, closer to home, and combining health and social care budgets. We also want to see more joined up care – hospitals working with GPs, district nurses and social care workers. There is also an opportunity to better utilise technology in our health service, but at the heart of any changes will be GPs.

The NHS was first conceived by a Liberal - William Beveridge. The values of the NHS are part of our party’s DNA and whilst our health service needs to evolve, as it has continually done, the fundamental values that underpin the NHS are at the heart of our plans.

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