There's been some negative coverage about the Lib Dems' support for the NHS following our abstention on a Labour amendment to the Queen's Speech. So let's set the record straight.
The NHS is incredibly important, and at time when our health service is under massive threat from Brexit it is important that political parties act with great care. The people who work in and lead the NHS do not want the disruptive and unwanted NHS reorganisation that Corbyn is proposing. Labour’s plans are ideologically driven and would not be welcomed by the NHS. They are not evidence driven, would cause major disruption and likely cost billions which could instead be spent on improving our struggling mental health service and reducing waiting times.
Over half of GPs have an average waiting time for non-urgent appointments at their practice of over two weeks. More than half (55%) of British adults with a diagnosed mental health problem who sought NHS treatment say they had to wait more than 4 weeks to see a mental health specialist.
Liberal Democrats are supporting the proposals the NHS recommended to Parliament. We will support the legislative changes the NHS needs, following the extensive consultation between the NHS and the cross-party Health and Social Care Select Committee lead by Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Wollaston.
These proposals have widespread support from the NHS workforce and those working alongside them. The NHS proposals include:
- An NHS Bill to free up different parts of the NHS to work together more easily which would speed up the implementation of the 10-year NHS Long Term Plan.
- Specific reference to the “minimal appetite for primary legislation that would now trigger another wholesale administrative reorganisation of the NHS2 – exactly what Labour would do.
- The scrapping of section 75 which would end enforcement of competition law and competitive tendering.
The Liberal Democrats are listening to what the NHS and the public want. Instead of focusing on these problems, Labour is proposing to repeal a piece of legislation, without saying what they will replace it with. They cannot turn the clock, all they would achieve is creating a vacuum in the NHS.
Liberal Democrats have also lead in Parliament in defending the NHS from the prospect of it being opened up and sold off in international trade deals to countries such as the USA. This has only become a threat thanks to Brexit, which Labour have supported. If Labour really care about the NHS they must stop pursuing Brexit and instead support the Liberal Democrat demand to Stop Brexit.