As with education, the NHS has been hugely underfunded in recent years. It is now struggling to do the amazing work that people value so much. It needs a big cash injection to address the cuts; to make sure that it is properly funded. That is why the Lib Dems have adopted the policy of adding a penny to every pound paid in income tax, which would be specifically ear-marked for health and social care. That is a small cost to fund a service that people value so much.
It is also vital that we bridge the gap between the care provided by the NHS and social care, to make sure that the system is properly integrated. At the moment, people go to hospital where the staff do a wonderful job, but they are abandoned when they come out. Those elderly who can no longer manage without constant care currently pay thousands for the essential support they need. That has to stop. People need an integrated seamless service.
The other key area, which the Lib Dems promoted in the coalition, is mental health. There is a huge waiting list for treatment for mental health conditions and people are falling through the cracks, not getting the support they need. It is a priority for the Lib Dems to ensure that mental and physical health both funded properly, and that they are treated equally. We need to make sure that adequate mental health services are available particularly to vulnerable children and young people.
Finally, we need to be aware that Brexit will have a devastating impact on the health service. A huge proportion of the staff in our hospitals, our nurses and doctors and the support workers who clean and help run our hospitals, are Europeans. So many of them are leaving because Brexit has made them feel insecure and unwelcome. We are losing brilliant people, and we have no capacity to replace them. Brexit is adding to the crisis in our NHS and it must be stopped.
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