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Liberal Democrats manifesto: Expanding nurse prescribing and investing in primary care

Liberal Democrats manifesto: Expanding nurse prescribing and investing in primary care
Copyright: Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to expand prescribing powers for nurses, promote ‘early access to community services’ and ‘invest in primary care estates’ in their election manifesto.

Outlining their commitments to health and social care today, the party committed to giving everyone the right to see a GP within seven days, or 24 hours in urgent cases.

The manifesto also includes plans to ‘remove top-down bureaucracy’ by enabling practices to ‘let practices hire staff they need and invest in training’.

Additional investment promises included the establishment of a ‘strategic small surgeries fund’ to support practices based in rural and remote areas.

The manifesto commits to implementing a ‘ten-year plan’ to invest in hospitals and primary care premises, ‘to end the scandal of crumbling roofs, dangerous concrete and life-expired buildings’.

This comes after RCN Congress voted to demand the RCN Council to ‘lobby government’ and care organisations ‘to take action and maintain their estate properly,’ with general practice nurses (GPNs) describing turning cleaning cupboards into clinic rooms and working in outdated spaces without windows.

The party’s election manifesto includes plans ‘free up GPs time’ by giving more prescribing rights and public health advisory services to qualified pharmacists, nurse practitioners and paramedics’.

While pledging 8,000 more GPs to meet patient demand, the manifesto did not suggest ways to increase nurse numbers.

Other plans for health include a commitment to improving access to blood pressure tests in community spaces, the introduction of ‘a new kitemark’ for health apps and digital tools help people ‘lead healthier lives’.

Speaking to Liberal Democrat supporters to launch the election plan, party leader Ed Davey spoke of a lack of at home health and care services, promising to ‘tackle the health and care crisis from top to bottom’.

The manifesto also proposes the creation of a new ‘Patients Charter’ to ‘harness the lived experience of patients’ and ‘embed patient voice’ across health and care settings.

The charter would include a new legal right to a second opinion, and to maintain contact in all health and care settings.

The manifesto also includes a commitment to recruit more staff to the social care sector with a ‘social care workforce plan’, that it said would work similarly to the current NHS England workforce plan, outlining ethical international recruitment practices.

Mr Davey said: ‘By ending the health and social care crisis, we can boost our economy by getting people back to work whilst giving people the dignity they deserve in their hour of need.’

Responding to the Liberal Democrat’s 2024 manifesto, RCN acting general secretary and chief executive, Professor Nicola Ranger, said: ‘There is a national emergency in our hospitals and a crisis of access in social care. Nursing staff will be pleased to see that recognised today.

‘Improving access to outside hospital services is the right commitment, but the sums offered fall far short.

‘Any meaningful expansion will require more than the £8bn extra promised each year.

‘Overstretched nursing staff need reassuring that they are not being asked to do even more with less.’

She added that while a new independent pay review body is a genuine commitment, nursing staff are still waiting for a pay rise that was due three months ago.

Professor Ranger described the social care workforce plan as ‘long overdue’, but warned there was too little funding to deliver this alongside expanding personal care, saying that ‘one or both will not be delivered in full’.

She added: ‘Migrant nursing staff across health and care will be pleased to see pledges to roll back elements of hostile immigration policy including the ban on bringing dependents and the immigration skills charge.

‘The RCN has long demanded that these pernicious measures be scrapped in their entirety.’

Nursing in Practice will be publishing news of the manifesto commitments for nursing from all major parties ahead of the general election.

See here, to read the Liberal Democrat manifesto in full.


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