LibDems pledge cash for NHS as Gloucester A&E wait hits SIX HOURS

Outside Cheltenham A&E at the last election. Photo: Anna Lythgoe 07801819711

The Liberal Democrats have announced they would plug funding gaps for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax, in their first major manifesto commitment of the election campaign.

The tax would raise an additional £65m for Gloucestershire, with £42m for the NHS, including mental health, and £23m for social care each year.

This is the party’s flagship spending commitment and its first major policy announcement for the election. The Liberal Democrats will also set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services in their manifesto.

At least 70% of Brits would happily pay an extra 1p in every pound if that money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, an ITV poll found last October (link).

Former Liberal Democrat MP and now parliamentary candidate, Martin Horwood, said:

“This morning in Gloucester the waiting time to be seen by a doctor or nurse hit a staggering six hours while Cheltenham A&E was still turning away ambulances until half an hour ago because of the night-time downgrade.  This can’t go on.  It’s blindingly obvious we need two fully-functioning A&E departments in this county and that Gloucester Royal just can’t cope on its own at night.”

“This is a national problem as well as a local one.  Our NHS Trust isn’t the only one that has plunged into deficit in the last two years of Tory government.  And the Conservative candidate here voted for all the spending plans and Budgets that are making this happen.  He didn’t even mention Cheltenham A&E in Parliament for the best part of two years.

“The Liberal Democrats are prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will all need to chip in a little more.
A penny in the pound here could be used be to pay hard-to-recruit rates and get the doctors we need into both A&Es, while the extra money for social care would ease pressure on the NHS too.  Only the Lib Dems seem to want to make this happen.

“This Conservative government has left our health and care services chronically underfunded – and while the crisis gets worse they just don’t seem to care.

“We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more without giving them the resources they need.”

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:

“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be.

“A penny in the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.

“But simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term.”
NOTES

  • The Liberal Democrats manifesto will set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services. This will include a 1% rise on the basic, higher, additional and dividend rates of income tax in the next financial year raising around £6bn per year, which will be ringfenced to be spent on NHS and care services and public health.
  • A regional breakdown of how the £6bn would be distributed, based on current funding allocations for both the NHS and social care, can be found here
  • Emergency departnment (A&E) waiting times at Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General can be checked online here
  • Alex Chalk’s failure to mention Cheltenham A&E in parliament until 11 January 2017 can be checked on the independent website theyworkforyou.com.  He is no longer technically the MP following the dissolution of Parliament for the election.

Former MP says he won’t take second job if elected

Martin Horwood on the campaign trail for the 2017 General Election. Photo: Anna Lythgoe 07801 819711

Former Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood has signed the national petition calling on the Conservative MP for Tatton, former Chancellor George Osborne, to resign following his appointment as editor of the London Evening Standard. 

The petition on campaign website 38degrees now has 189,000 signatures.  The website highlights the impossibility of Mr Osborne doing a proper job for his constituents as well as that of editor of a major newspaper.  It also points out the inevitable conflcits of interest.

‘I always found being Member of Parliament was more than a full-time job and I certainly won’t take a second one if I’m elected as MP for Cheltenham again in the future.  Some of George Osborne’s appointments – such as chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership which he championed as Chancellor, don’t seem that inappropriate,’ commented Martin ‘but taking a one-day a week job advising an American fund management firm and then taking the editorship of a major newspaper as well is just taking the mickey.  If I was one of his constituents I’d want my money back.’

Mr Osborne is reputed to be earning £650,000 for the one day a week job with fund managers Blackrock.

‘MPs earn a good enough salary at £75,000 a year’, added Martin.  ‘I know my successor as MP for Cheltenham has earned nearly £4,000 on top of that as a London barrister since being elected in 2015.  I understand he wants to keep his hand in.  But that’s small beer in comparison to the sums George Osborne expects to rake in when he should be representing his constituents.  It’s simple, old-fashioned greed and he should resign.  And in any case, how he can possibly be an independent editor, holding ministers to account, while taking the government whip in the Commons?’

NOTES

  • Alex Chalk MP’s outside earnings are declared in the Register of Member’s Interests which can be seen on theyworkforyou.com at https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/25340/alex_chalk/cheltenham.   Earnings marked “0 hours since election” are discounted from the £3,941 total earned since the election.