The King's Fund response to Nick Clegg speech on health and social care

Commenting on the Liberal Democrats' new health policy paper, Protecting and Improving the NHS, which Nick Clegg launched today with a speech at The King’s Fund, the Fund’s acting chief executive, Dr Anna Dixon, said:

'Nick Clegg is absolutely right to recognise and praise carers young and old for the many unpaid hours they spend supporting relatives. They undoubtedly deserve more help and will want further details from the Liberal Democrats about how the proposed funds to guarantee respite care will be delivered to them.

'We also welcome Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb's support for cross-party co-operation on reforming social care funding. However, their plans for another commission must not delay much needed reform. There has already been a lengthy consultation process and a good deal of debate about the options. While political agreement on the detail is highly unlikely before the election, it is important that the three main parties work towards a consensus on the key elements of reform as soon as possible.'

Addressing elements of Liberal Democrat health policy contained in today's paper, Dr Dixon added:

'We are yet to be convinced that there is public appetite for the elected health boards the Liberal Democrats propose to replace primary care trusts. While the public express concern about big decisions like service closures there is little evidence they want more of a say in the day to day management of their local health service. Further, public engagement of this type will require time and money, when the party is also saying they want to slash administrative budgets.

'The Liberal Democrats are right to want to streamline regulation and minimise the burden that duplicated requests for data can have on the health service. Ensuring clarity about which organisation is responsible for patient safety is important but any changes must be implemented with care. Regulators and quangos are easy targets for politicians but perform an important role in ensuring safety and quality, which must not be compromised in pursuit of short-term savings.'

Notes to editors: 

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.