The party also promised to ensure better access to GPs by increasing use of online video and phone consultations.
The party, which could be back in government after May’s election as a junior partner to either the Conservatives or Labour, repeated its pledge to increase NHS funding by £8bn a year by 2020. The party promised to find the money NHS England has said the health service needs to help plug a projected £30bn blackhole.
A Liberal Democrat government would also repeal parts of the Health and Social Care Act which make the service vulnerable to privatisation, better integrate mental health services with the rest of the NHS and increase mental health spending by £500m a year by 2016/17.
The party has said £500m a year of that would be targeted at linking up fragmented parts of the health and care system and extending the range of services provided by GPs working collaboratively.
Another £250m transformation fund from an NHS asset sale would pay for new technology including more use of online, phone and video access to GPs.
Speaking exclusively to GP last week health minister Norman Lamb admitted his plan ‘necessitates an increase in the GP workforce’. As part of the coalition, he said, his party was signed up to increase by 5,000 the number of GPs, but he added, Health Education England ‘needs to do more work to properly analyse the workforce requirements over the next five years’.
Liberal Democrat manifesto health pledges:
- Ensure easier access to GPs, expanding evening and weekend opening, encouraging phone and Skype appointments, encouraging GPs to work together in federations, and allowing people more choice
- Encourage GPs and other community clinicians to work in disadvantaged areas though our Patient Premium
- Deliver the £8bn England’s NHS leaders say is needed to keep it strong, with money for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too
- Invest £500m to transform mental health care
- Radically transform mental health services, extending the use of personal budgets, and integrating care more fully with the rest of the NHS
- Secure local agreement on full pooling of budgets between the NHS and care services with a target date of 2018, consulting on a legal duty for this
- Support new joined-up services such as GPs providing services like scans and blood tests closer to home, or hospitals having GP surgeries within A&E departments
- Encourage the development of joined-up health providers, which cover hospital and community services, including GPs
- Repeal any parts of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 that make NHS services vulnerable to forced privatisation through international agreements