Liberal Democrats publish new health strategy

Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb MP has set out plans for a ‘genuinely local health service freed from Whitehall’.

The paper, published on the eve of the party’s conference in Brighton, is Mr Lamb’s contribution to the party’s health policy working group, set to report fully in early 2008.

His proposals for England and Wales include:

  • An elected local health board to put people in charge of decisions about their local health services.
  • A local health ‘contribution’ to allow communities to raise extra money for local health services offset by cuts in national income tax.
  • A patient adviser providing universal information services via the GP surgery.
  • A Patient’s Contract, declaring the entitlements that every citizen has of right, wherever they live.
  • Empowering patients by exploring introducing more direct payments and personal budgets.

Mr Lamb said: ‘In today’s highly centralised NHS there is a real democratic deficit, with too many decisions made in Whitehall. Protests against hospital closures and cuts to services, up and down the country, show that local people do not feel their voices are being heard.

‘Liberal Democrats think the status quo is unacceptable. The key is creating real accountability to local communities, where they have the power to make decisions on how money is spent on their NHS.

‘Patients would be genuinely empowered to take control of their own healthcare through better information and a ‘patient contract.’

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