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Lib Dems want 1% income tax rise to pay for general practice

The Liberal Democrats have listed general practice as a key area of investment should they come to power in next month’s general election.

The party has said it wants to raise an extra £6bn a year, to be ring-fenced for the NHS and social care, by introducing a 1% increase to all rates of income tax.

It said the funds raised ‘will provide vital services with the money they desperately need’ and would come as part of a wider plan to ‘put health and care services on a more sustainable footing long term’.

This would include setting up a ‘cross-party health and care convention’ as well as and ‘Independent Office of Health and Care Funding’, which would be tasked with monitoring health and care budgets and would make a spending recommendation every three years.

Liberal Democrats health spokesperson Norman Lamb said: ‘This new funding will be targeted to those areas that have the greatest impact on patient care such as social care, general practice, mental health and public health.’

Mr Lamb told Pulse in an exclusive interview last week that his party would also drop current Government plans to enforce routine seven-day GP appointments across England.

The announcement came as the Tories and Labour also made healthcare pledges over the weekend.

The Conservative Party promised to improve mental healthcare by cutting down the number of people who are detained for treatment, following a 43% increase in the last decade.

The party said the new Mental Health Treatment Bill would replace ‘the outdated and unfit-for-purpose’ 1983 Mental Health Act, and also come alongside ‘sweeping changes to the Equalities Act to prevent workplace discrimination’.

‘Problems like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder are often intermittent, but currently employees are only protected from discrimination if their condition is continuous for 12 months, so the law will be reformed,’ the party said.

The Labour Party meanwhile said it would launch a Child Health Bill which would compel all Government departments to produce a child health strategy and also introduce an index of child health to measure progress against international standards.

It would also establish a £250m child health fund, to be achieved by reducing NHS management consultancy costs, and introduce a pre-9pm ban on junk food advertising.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The BMA has been calling for increased funding for the NHS, and general practice in particular, to enable a sustainable service and respond to the growing needs of our patients.

‘This should be well beyond the current plans and at least match that invested by comparable European countries.

‘Politicians of all parties should be honest with the electorate that this will require the incoming Government to spend a greater share of our GDP on health and social care services.’