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Lib Dems reveal health plans
The Liberal Democrats plan free dental checks for all
The Liberal Democrats say the top priority for the NHS must be to recruit more staff.

Another priority, they reveal, is to invest in measures designed to prevent people from getting ill in the first place.

The party unveiled a "mini-manifesto" for health on Thursday ahead of the expected general election on June 7.

In common with the Tories, the Lib Dems say they would scrap the waiting list targets introduced by the current government.

Health spokesman Nick Harvey told the BBC: "The whole focus should be on waiting times, and not on waiting lists which has caused absolute havoc.

"What people care about is how long individually they have to wait. How long anybody else has to wait is a secondary issue."

Policy pledges

The Lib Dems mini-manifesto includes the following pledges:

  • to cut waiting times by recruiting 27,500 more nurses, 4,600 more doctors, and 10,250 more professionals allied to medicine.
  • to cut waiting times by retaining more staff through increasing pay for the worst paid NHS professional staff by an average of 1000 each per year.
  • to cut waiting times by providing an additional 10,000 beds.
  • to end elderly and long-term patients having to pay for long-term personal care costs.
Writing in the mini-manifesto, Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy criticises Labour for sticking to Tory spending targets for the NHS for the first three years of its administration.

He also accuses the government of failing to meet its pledge to increase spending on the health service to match that of other European countries.

He says: "We will prioritise investment to cut waiting times.

"But we also believe that it is best to improve health by preventing illness, tackling pollution and reducing poverty."

Public health

Specific plans to boost the general health of the population include:

  • 500 million over five years to guarantee access for everyone to an NHS dentist
  • doubling the government's commitment to invest extra in the latest scanning and diagnostic equipment
  • restoring free NHS dental check-ups for all
  • providing free eye checks for all
  • making more tests available in GP surgeries and pharmacies for diabetes, cholesterol, anaemia, HIV, TB, prostate and colorectal diseases
  • promoting a wider availability of complementary medicines and healthcare through the NHS
  • requiring an energy efficiency audit to be completed on all homes
  • tackling the air pollution responsible for respiratory problems
In common with both the other major parties, the Liberal Democrats are also committed to giving frontline NHS staff more power at the expense of Whitehall.

They plan to improve standards of care by issuing patients with minimum standards of treatment to which the NHS will be held accountable. Patients would be also be given access to independent advocates.

The Lib Dems also favour a system of no-fault compensation to cut down on the need for costly litigation following medical errors.

Mixed sexed wards in hospitals would be abolished, and legislation would be introduced to ban age discrimination.

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24 Apr 01 | Health
25 Apr 01 | Health
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