The Kings Fund responds to the Liberal Democrats manifesto

From: Think Tanks
Published: Tue Jun 11 2024

Commenting on the Liberal Democrat manifesto, Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of The King's Fund, yesterday said:

With NHS and social care satisfaction at its lowest level since the British Social Attitudes Survey began in 1983, and polls placing the NHS at the top of issues for the electorate, it is welcome to see the Liberal Democrats put health and social care front and centre of their manifesto.”

On the party's social care plans, Sarah yesterday said:

“The Liberal Democrats are currently the only major English party proposing much-needed reform of social care, with plans to introduce free personal home care and a higher minimum wage for social care workers in England.

“Free personal care doesn't cover all aspects of a person's care, and it's unclear if the policy only applies to older people or also covers working-age adults living with disabilities. But the plan would still represent a significant step forward and increase many people's access to state-funded care.”

On the party's public health proposals, Sarah yesterday said:

“The Liberal Democrat's manifesto includes a welcome battery of measures to improve people's health, including restricting junk-food advertising, making it easier for people to have their blood pressure checked, and a significant £1 billion funding boost for council public health teams.

“However, for a party focused on preventing illness, it is disappointing to see the Liberal Democrats fail to commit to the phased smoking ban proposed by the current government. The smoke-free generation law would be a real game changer for the nation's health and should be a priority for any government wanting to prevent illness.”

On the NHS commitments in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, Sarah yesterday said:

“The party's pledges to rescue NHS services touch on many of the key issues for patients, but could be summed up as good on ambition, light on detail. The aim to speed up access to GP appointments by recruiting 8,000 more GPs is a laudable ambition, but as the current government has found, recruiting more GPs and retaining existing ones is not easy, and without more detail on how the party would achieve this goal, it is hard to see how their promise of faster access to GP appointments can be met.

“Similarly, a legal right for cancer patients to start treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral will be welcomed by many, but it is unclear how enshrining in law a target that already exists will, in itself, make the target any more achievable.”

And on the health and care funding commitments in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, Sarah yesterday commented:

“The party has pledged £9.4 billion additional health and care spending a year by 2028/29. Of that, £1.1 billion a year is to improve NHS buildings and equipment, and £3.7 billion a year is for day-to-day NHS spending. While these are large sums of money, in the context of a Department of Health and Social Care budget that is already nearly £190 billion in England and the depth of the challenges facing our health service, the scale of this funding equates to incremental improvements for the NHS, not wholesale transformation.”

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Notes to Editors

The King's Fund has also responded to the Liberal Democrats' pledge to reform social care by introducing free personal care.

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585.

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.

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