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Liberal Democrats promise integration of health and social care

The Liberal Democrat Party pledged to integrate health and social care services in its manifesto published this week.

The party said it would integrate the two, ‘ending bureaucratic barriers and saving money to allow people to stay in their homes for longer rather than going into a hospital or long-term residential care’.

Outlining its plans should the party be elected on 6 May at the General Election, the document says the party’s first priority would be to increase spending in some parts of the NHS by cutting waste in others.

It identified ways to save money by reducing quangos, bureaucracy and management costs, and promised that this money would be ploughed into healthcare costs that are rising as a result of an ageing population. As a result, dementia research will be prioritised and cognitive and behavioural therapies will continue to be rolled out to ensure improved access to counselling for people with mental health problems.

The party also said money set aside for ‘Labour’s flawed Personal Care at Home Bill’ would be used to provide respite care for the one million carers. An independent commission with cross-party support would be established to develop proposals for the long-term care of older people.

The Liberal Democrats also pledged to enhance child protection and said that anonymised versions of Serious Case Reviews would be published to enable lessons from child abuse cases to be learned. This goes one step further than Labour which said earlier this week that it would only publish detailed summaries of Serious Case Reviews.

The Liberal Democrats endorsed the commitment to end child poverty in the UK by 2020 and said the party would incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into UK law, ending the detention of children for immigration purposes and matching work underway in Scotland at present where the Scottish National party government is moving towards full implementation of the UNCRC.

The manifesto stated that the party would scrap ContactPoint – the ‘intrusive’ database which is intended to hold the details of every child in the UK, a policy the Conservative Party has also repeatedly emphasised.

Education was unsurprisingly key to the manifesto and the party said they would invest money in schools to cut class sizes and increase one-to-one tuition and funding for the most disadvantaged pupils would be increased.

Special Educational Needs diagnostic assessments for all five-year-olds would be guaranteed and SEN provision and SEN training for teachers would be improved.

The Youth Service would be made a statutory service and local authorities would be encouraged to provide youth services in partnership with young people and the voluntary sector.

Young people affected by the recession would be aided through a work placement scheme, with up to 800,000 places to give young people the opportunity to gain skills, qualifications and work experience while earning £55 per week for up to three months.

In a detailed manifesto the party also set out how it wants to tackle discrimination at work and eradicate the barriers to work for people with disabilities. A Liberal Democrat government would provide disabled job seekers with better practical help, using voluntary and private sector providers, as well as Job Centre Plus services. Access to Work would also be reformed so disabled people can apply for jobs with funding already in place for equipment and adaptations that they need.

Severely disabled people would also benefit from Winter Fuel Allowance Payments.

Link to Liberal Democrat manifesto

Link to Conservative manifesto

Link to story on Labour manifesto

Link to story on BASW’s manifesto