The former head of the NHS David Nicholson has today backed Liberal Democrat plans to put a penny on income tax to rescue the health and care service, in a major boost for the party.
He is amongst a group of 26 leading health experts including the ex-heads of the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of GPs and Royal College of Psychiatrist who all backed the Lib Dem approach in a letter to the Observer today.
The letter states:
"The human cost of this crisis is already painfully clear. Waiting times are rising, there is particularly poor access for people with mental ill health and operations are being cancelled.
"For these reasons, we strongly welcome the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to raise income tax by 1p, to generate additional, ringfenced revenue for NHS and social care."
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb commented:
"It is fantastic to have this support from those who have worked in all levels of our health service and understand the pressure it is now under.
“There is a real sense of urgency because the system is close to tipping point.
"The NHS is in a very fragile state. It has had an extraordinarily tough winter without a flu epidemic and without cold conditions.
“Bluntly, we can’t carry on like this. Only the Lib Dems have a clear and credible plan for how we raise the money and get it into the NHS and the care system.”
Notes to Editors
The letter can be found here
Full text of letter
The NHS and social care are in a state of crisis. Hard-working, dedicated staff, who are fighting to provide high quality, compassionate care, are being undermined because these essential services are being woefully underfunded.
As people who have worked for many years in the NHS, social care and related fields, we know the impact this is having on patients, and on staff morale, on a daily basis.
The Government would like us to believe this can be fixed simply by asking services to find savings. But the NHS is already one of the most efficient health systems in the world. Cutbacks will not be enough to fix the deficit – not without harming patient care and causing untold damage to these vital services.
The human cost of this crisis is already painfully clear. Waiting times are rising, there is particularly poor access for people with mental ill health and operations are being cancelled. More and more people are also unable to leave hospital following treatment because the follow-up care they need isn’t available. Ultimately, all of these factors lead to poorer outcomes.
For these reasons, we strongly welcome the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to raise income tax by 1p, to generate additional, ringfenced revenue for NHS and social care.
We also welcome their manifesto commitments to develop a long-term funding settlement for health and social care. Including bringing together funding into a dedicated, transparent NHS and care tax, establishing an independent body to advise on NHS and care budgets, and convening a cross-party convention on NHS and social care to work with patients, the public and staff, to deliver a sustainable funding settlement for NHS and care services.
While some of us are supporters of the Liberal Democrat party, others are members of different parties, or of none. But it is our considered opinion, that whichever party you support, these measures will have a demonstrable benefit for NHS and social care services.
We do not believe NHS and social care can continue to deliver high standards, and meet increasing demand, without more money. We hope that ahead of 8 June, all parties will set out similarly bold commitments to give the NHS and social care the funding it desperately needs.