A number of people have been contacting me regarding dementia.
Liberal Democrats are very proud of what we achieved for mental health while in Coalition Government, but recognise that there is still a long way to go. We will continue to fight to tackle dementia.
When we were in Coalition Government, spending on dementia research more than doubled, in line with Liberal Democrats’ 2010 manifesto pledge.
It was also during Coalition that Health Minister Norman Lamb MP led on the introduction of the Care Act, part of which came into force in April 2015. The remaining parts of the act, which were due to come into force in April 2016, have been delayed by the Tory Government until April 2020.
Liberal Democrats will continue this record of delivery, investing in our health and care systems so that they can keep delivering for generations to come. The NHS and social care services are now in a state of crisis. The Conservatives have left them chronically under-funded, while need continues to grow and patient care suffers. Social care is facing a funding blackhole of £2 billion this year alone and more than a million older people are missing out on the care that they need. Only Liberal Democrats will make the case for increasing tax to guarantee the future of public health and care services. We will put a penny in the pound on income tax to give the NHS and care services an extra £6 billion, with approximately £2 billion of this ringfenced for social care and £1 billion for mental health services.
Liberal Democrats will take a host of other steps to transform mental health care and support.
These steps include implementing the recommendations in the strategy published under the Coalition, called Achieving Better Access to Mental Health Services by 2020; increasing access to clinically and cost-effective talking therapies so hundreds of thousands more people can get this support and continuing to roll out access and waiting time standards. We will continue to fight to end the historic inequality between physical and mental health.
As a country, we are living longer – but that means more people are living with conditions like dementia who need help to live with dignity and the maximum degree of independence. We must set the highest standards in care, abolishing the artificial boundaries that prevent health and social care services working together. Liberal Democrats will ensure health and care services are delivered in a more integrated way and work to expand personal budgets, making them more accessible.
Carers are the unsung heroes of our health system and we will do more to help them. Liberal Democrats will finish the job of implementing a cap on the cost of social care and revise the Carers’ Allowance so that it is fairer and recognises the efforts of carers across the country. We will also raise the amount people can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £116 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours’ care per week required to qualify. Additionally, we will give the NHS a legal duty to identify carers and develop a Carer’s Passport scheme to inform carers of their NHS rights, such as flexible visiting hours and access to support.
Liberal Democrats are clear that our national healthcare system must provide high quality care to all – across both mental and physical health. If elected as your MP, I will ensure that I continue Liberal Democrats’ work to dramatically improve our health care services so that we can continue to fight dementia together.