The Liberal Democrats have criticised the role of competition in the health service, pledging to repeal parts of the Health Act 2012 and end the competition authority’s role in health.
- Liberal Democrats commit to protect “NHS services vulnerable to forced privatisation” by repealing parts of the Health Act
- Party wants to consult on legal duty for NHS bodies and social care providers to pool budgets by 2018
- If in government the party would look to “permit” commissioners and providers to form single integrated health bodies
- Reiterates wish to shift responsibility and funding for social care policy to the DH
The party’s general election manifesto, released this morning, says it is “committed” to repealing any parts of the Health Act 2012 that “make NHS services vulnerable to forced privatisation through international agreements on free markets in goods and services”.
The party says it would also work to end the role of the Competition and Markets Authority in health. The document adds: “The needs of patients, fairness and access always come ahead of competition, and that good local NHS services do not have to be put out to tender.”
If in government, the Liberal Democrats would also consult on a legal duty for NHS bodies and social care services to fully pool budgets by 2018. Last year care minister Norman Lamb called for legal obligation to ensure health and social care commissioners pool their budgets as part of a significant expansion of the better care fund.
NHS commissioners and providers in a local area would be “permitted” to form a single integrated health organisation “where appropriate”, under their plans.
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The party reiterated its commitment to increase NHS budget in England by “at least” £8bn a year in real terms by 2020, and to boost mental health spending by £500m a year by 2016-17.
It set out its intention to shift full responsibility and funding for social care policy to the Department of Health, an aspiration revealed by Mr Lamb in an exclusive interview with HSJ last month.
The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto also pledges to:
- Commission a non-partisan “fundamental” review of NHS and social care funding this year.
- Extend the use of personal budgets in mental health care.
- Ensure the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership trade agreement protects NHS services from international competition.
- Combine the public health, adult social care and health outcome frameworks into a single national wellbeing outcomes framework.
- Encourage GPs to work in disadvantaged areas though a “patient premium” payment.
- Set up a £50m mental health research fund.
- Work with Monitor to reform NHS funding systems tariffs to encourage joined up services and prevention.