Liberal Democrats' health policy

The Liberal Democrat manifesto was published on 14 April 2010. Key pledges on health include:

Savings

The Department of Health will be cut by half, 'unnecessary' quangos will be abolished, including Connecting for Health, which runs the NHS IT programme, while the budgets of other quangos will be cut. Strategic health authorities will be scrapped and the remuneration of top NHS managers will be limited, so that none is paid more than the Prime Minister.

Local accountability

Elected local health boards will take over the role of PCT boards in commissioning care for their local population from a range of providers. Over time local people will be able to fund local services 'which need extra money'.

Employee trusts

Staff will be allowed to establish employee trusts to give them 'a say in how their service is run'.

Patient guarantees

Centralised targets and bureaucracy will be reduced and replaced by guarantees that patients get diagnosis and treatment 'on time'. The NHS will pay for private treatment where this does not happen.

Patient care

Best practice will be extended to improving hospital discharge, maximising the number of day-case operations, reducing delays and moving consultations to the community where possible.

Hospitals will be required to tell patients if something has gone wrong. It will be illegal for a local health board to let a doctor work in the UK who has not passed language and competence tests. Police presence in A&E departments will be increased and there will be a clamp down on abuse from members of the public.

GP services

Every patient will be able to register with the GP of their choice regardless of where they live, and will have the right to contact their GP by email. Local GPs are to be involved in providing out-of-hours care. GPs will receive extra payment for each patient they accept from areas with 'the worst health and deprivation scores'.

Public health

Payment to health boards and GPs will be linked more directly to prevention measures. Below-cost selling of alcohol will be banned and the principle of minimum pricing will be examined. The system of taxation for alcohol will be reviewed to ensure it tackles binge drinking without penalising others. 

Air pollution will be cut through the cancellation of plans for a third runway at Heathrow and other airport expansion in the south east, and through tighter regulation of vehicle exhausts.

Social care

Health and social care will be integrated and guaranteed. Respite care will be provided for the one million carers who spend 50 hours a week looking after a relative. An independent commission on long-term care for older people will be established 'immediately' to develop proposals that have cross-party support.

Mental health

The roll-out of cognitive and behavioural therapies will continue. The Liberal Democrats predict that this will cut the economic costs of mental health problems by £605 million by 2014/15.

Dementia

Dementia research will be prioritised.

Contaminated blood products

A working group will be established to determine appropriate levels of financial assistance for those affected by the contamination of blood products with HIV.