Responding to the Liberal Democrats’ NHS election pledges, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“The Liberal Democrats are right to identify workforce, capital investment and social care as key priorities for the NHS - indeed these are the issues that front-line leaders tell us need urgent attention.
“In our election survey, three quarters of our members said that supporting and growing the NHS workforce should be a critical priority, ranking it highest of all issues.
“The Lib Dem’s commitment to protect the rights of EU citizens working in the NHS should help to retain staff and their support for a national workforce strategy is welcome, but even with this, significant international recruitment will still be needed in the years ahead.
“It is estimated that £6 billion of capital investment is needed for England just to clear the backlog and so the Lib Dems’ pledge of £10 billion would provide a boost to the health service’s physical and digital infrastructure.
“We welcome reinstating support for nursing students, starting with bursaries for specialties, where shortages are most acute such as mental health and learning disability nursing.
“It is encouraging that all the political parties have identified health and social care as key priorities and are proposing significant extra investment.
“But it will also be important that they acknowledge that, even with more funding, our health and care system faces major challenges as it seeks to transform the way care is delivered in the face of ever-rising demand for its services.”