The Liberal Democrats have announced they would plug funding gaps for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax, in their first major manifesto commitment of the election campaign.
The tax would raise an additional £65m for Gloucestershire, with £42m for the NHS, including mental health, and £23m for social care each year.
This is the party’s flagship spending commitment and its first major policy announcement for the election. The Liberal Democrats will also set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services in their manifesto.
At least 70% of Brits would happily pay an extra 1p in every pound if that money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, an ITV poll found last October (link).
Former Liberal Democrat MP and now parliamentary candidate, Martin Horwood, said:
"This morning in Gloucester the waiting time to be seen by a doctor or nurse hit a staggering six hours while Cheltenham A&E was still turning away ambulances until half an hour ago because of the night-time downgrade. This can't go on. It's blindingly obvious we need two fully-functioning A&E departments in this county and that Gloucester Royal just can't cope on its own at night."
"This is a national problem as well as a local one. Our NHS Trust isn't the only one that has plunged into deficit in the last two years of Tory government. And the Conservative candidate here voted for all the spending plans and Budgets that are making this happen. He didn't even mention Cheltenham A&E in Parliament for the best part of two years.
"The Liberal Democrats are prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will all need to chip in a little more.
A penny in the pound here could be used be to pay hard-to-recruit rates and get the doctors we need into both A&Es, while the extra money for social care would ease pressure on the NHS too. Only the Lib Dems seem to want to make this happen.
"This Conservative government has left our health and care services chronically underfunded - and while the crisis gets worse they just don't seem to care.
"We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more without giving them the resources they need."
Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:
“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be.
“A penny in the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.
“But simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term."
Notes to editors
- The Liberal Democrats manifesto will set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services. This will include a 1% rise on the basic, higher, additional and dividend rates of income tax in the next financial year raising around £6bn per year, which will be ringfenced to be spent on NHS and care services and public health.
- A regional breakdown of how the £6bn would be distributed, based on current funding allocations for both the NHS and social care, can be found here
- Emergency departnment (A&E) waiting times at Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General can be checked online here
- Alex Chalk's failure to mention Cheltenham A&E in parliament until 11 January 2017 can be checked on the independent website theyworkforyou.com. He is no longer technically the MP following the dissolution of Parliament for the election.