Liberal Democrat funding pledge could pay for 38,000 more GPs

The Liberal Democrat party could pay for 38,000 more GPs than Labour with its NHS funding rise pledge, the party has said - a move that would double England's GP workforce.

Nick Clegg: Lib Dem NHS pledge could double GP numbers (Photo: iStock)
Nick Clegg: Lib Dem NHS pledge could double GP numbers (Photo: iStock)

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced a £250m transformation fund raised from the sale of redundant NHS assets.

The one-off fund would help pay for changes NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said are required in the Five Year Forward View including more online appointments and repeat prescriptions, and encouraging more use of video appointments.

The Liberal Democrats have also committed to increasing NHS funding in England by £8bn a year by the end of the next parliament to help plug the projected £30bn black hole identified in the Five Year Forward View.

NHS funding pledge

In a statement the party said it plans to spend £17bn more than the Tories and and £7bn more than Labour on the health service.

‘It means we can pay for 5m more operations than the Conservatives, and hire 150,000 more nurses and 38,000 more GPs than Labour,' the party said.

Latest GP workforce figures show there are around 40,000 headcount GPs in England and around 36,000 full-time equivalents.

Labour has pledged to hire 8,000 extra GPs using its £2.5bn a year Time to Care fund and maintain the spending ring-fence on the NHS.

GP recruitment

Earlier this week health Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Tories would give the NHS in England ‘whatever’ it needs to fill the funding gap, whether that was more or less than £8bn. The party would ring-fence and protect the NHS budget so spending would rise with inflation and 'train and retain' 5,000 more GPs.

A Liberal Democrat spokeswoman said the figure of 38,000 extra GPs was an illustrative example.

Mr Clegg said: ‘The NHS doesn’t need warm words, it needs hard cash. And we know exactly how much because the boss of NHS England has told us – an extra £8bn a year by 2020. The Liberal Democrats are the only party that has committed to finding that money and the only one that has set out how it will pay for it. But we also need to help the NHS adapt so it is fit for the challenges of the 21st century. That’s why we have a plan to introduce modern technology that will help patients, with more doctors’ appointments and repeat prescriptions at the touch of a button.’

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