The Liberal Democrats have pledged to inject £35 billion into the NHS and social care over the next five years.
The party said in its manifesto, published yesterday, that it will raise £7 billion a year by adding a penny on income tax.
It has committed to use this cash to relieve the crisis in social care, tackle urgent workforce shortages and invest in mental health and prevention services.
On top of this, the party has announced a £10 billion capital fund to upgrade equipment, ambulances, hospitals and other NHS buildings to bring them into the 21st Century.
Announcing the policy, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care Luciana Berger (pictured) said: “The NHS is struggling to cope with severe staff shortages, chronic underfunding and crumbling hospital buildings. All of these problems would be made much worse by a Tory or Labour Brexit that would end free movement and make it harder to attract nurses and doctors from the EU.
“The Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future by stopping Brexit, and we will put a penny on income tax to raise an extra £35 billion for the NHS and social care.
“We are the only party with a credible plan to protect the NHS, by tackling the staffing crisis, investing in mental health services, social care, public health and and making our NHS buildings fit for the 21st century.”
Berger also repeated the party’s claim that stopping Brexit will also relieve chronic staffing shortages and save the social care system.
In the longer term, the Liberal Democrats have promised to commission the development of a dedicated Health and Care Tax, offset by other tax reductions, on the basis of consultation with the public.
The intention is to bring together spending on both services into a collective budget and set out transparently, on people’s payslips, what the Government is spending on health and social care.
The party said it will also establish a cross-party health and social care convention that builds on the existing body of work from previous conventions, select committees and the 2018 citizens’ assembly to reach agreement on the long-term sustainable funding of a joined-up system of health and social care.
It said introducing a cap on the cost of care, “not so far delivered by the Conservatives” would be a key starting point for Liberal Democrat participants.
In addition, the party promises to introduce a statutory independent budget monitoring body for health and care, similar to the Office Budget Responsibility. This would report every three years on how much money the system needs to deliver safe and sustainable treatment and care, and how much is needed to meet the costs of projected increases in demand.