The Liberal Democrats have pledged to end the GP shortfall by 2024/2025 by maintaining freedom of movement by remaining in the EU and training more GPs.
As part of this promise, the party has also said it will make ‘better use’ of nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists, as well as phone and video appointments, where ‘clinically suitable’.
The party has released its plans for the NHS ahead of the 12 December general election, including promising an extra £35bn for the health service and social care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the next five years.
This £7bn per year would be ‘ring-fenced’ for the NHS and social care services, and would come through an increase in income tax, which is devolved in Scotland and therefore the money would not be spent there.
Other policies include:
- £10bn capital fund to upgrade equipment, ambulances, hospitals and other NHS buildings.
- Producing a national workforce strategy;
- Stopping Brexit to retain freedom of movement and mutual recognition of qualifications.
Liberal Democrat secretary for health, wellbeing and social care, Luciana Berger, 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.’
In a statement today, the Liberal Democrats said their plans would ‘end the GP shortfall within five years’.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the RCGP is pleased with the recognition of general practice investment.
She added: ‘We are pleased to see a further announcement for additional investment in the NHS and welcome the fact that the Liberal Democrat’s have committed to tackling the GP shortfall.
‘We are also pleased to see a focus on improving premises and infrastructure. However, it is essential that GP premises are a focus within this as we know that half of GPs say their premises are currently not fit for purpose.
‘We don’t yet have important details about how these policies will work in practice. We cannot simply rely on the international recruitment of GPs alone, and more must be done to increase the number of GP training places, retain the GPs we have, and make general practice a more attractive place to work as a matter of urgency.’
Last week, Labour pledged £2.5bn for ‘overhaul to primary care estate’, whereas the Conservatives have promised 6,000 new doctors in general practice by 2024/25.