A Lib Dem health minister has said the NHS urgently needs an extra £1.5bn in funding or it will be “betraying patients”.
Norman Lamb, a care minister, made his concerns public just weeks before the chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement when government spending and decisions are announced.
He said the cash needed to be given to NHS in from next April as a priority, followed by an extra £1bn for the NHS in each year of the next parliament.
“This needs to start straight away,” the Liberal Democrat minister said. “Too often politicians take the easy way out and delay big spending decisions in the hope they become someone else’s problem. Doing that would betray patients. The NHS needs significantly more money to help trusts adapt to the changing needs of our population and it can’t afford to wait.
“That’s why securing extra money for the NHS must be a high priority for the whole government in next month’s autumn statement. And we want at least an extra billion pounds put in every year in the next parliament too.”
The call from Lamb comes after NHS boss Simon Stevens last month outlined the need for an additional £8bn for the health service in a report that called for radical changes, including GP surgeries offering many of the services currently confined to hospitals. However, Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said Lamb’s party was partly to blame for the state of the NHS.
“You can’t trust a word the Lib Dems say. If the NHS is facing a crash then it is as a result of their and the Tories’ policies.
“This is breathtaking hypocrisy, even for the Lib Dems. Thanks to them it’s getting harder to see your GP, waiting lists are up and £3bn has been wasted on a top-down reorganisation while frontline staff have been lost. This is the record of this government: an NHS going backwards under the Tories, made possible thanks to the support and the votes of the Lib Dems. Rather than bickering amongst themselves the Lib Dems and Tories should be focussing on fixing the mess they’ve made of the NHS.
“Only Labour will rescue the NHS with an extra £2.5bn a year on top of Tory spending plans which will fund new staff including 20,000 more nurses – investment the Tories and the Lib Dems will not match.”
A senior Tory source said the Liberal Democrats had not raised the issue of extra funding for the NHS in Treasury meetings that were negotiating what each coalition party wanted out of the autumn statement.
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