Steve Beasant

Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Great Grimsby and Councillor for the East Marsh Learn more

Norman Lamb’s cross-party letter on NHS signed by 90 MPs

by Steve Beasant on 18 November, 2017

Liberal Democrat MP and former health minister Norman Lamb has organised a cross-party group of 90 MPs, including select committee chairs and former cabinet ministers, to write to the prime minister urging the government to establish an NHS and Care Convention to find a sustainable long-term settlement for these services. 

The call has been backed by a high-profile group of 15 committee chairs, 22 former ministers, six former secretaries of state, and several prominent ex-shadow ministers and select committee members. The Convention would work on a cross-party basis, engaging with the public and the health and care workforce, to confront the mounting pressures in the system arising from an older population and growing demand for healthcare.

Ahead of the Autumn Budget on Wednesday, the MPs are urging the government to address the short-term challenges in the system, as well as endorsing the proposal for a cross-party approach to put these services on a stable long-term footing.

The initiative has been led by former Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb, the Conservative Chair of the Health Select Committee, Dr. Sarah Wollaston, and Labour’s former Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall.

It follows a meeting between the prime minister and a group of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MPs last February, in which Mrs May agreed to a discussion on the proposal with her advisors. However, the plans were interrupted by the General Election and no further progress has been made.

Since then, there have been further reports of patients and older people being let down by longer waiting times for treatment, unmet care needs, and pressure on mental health budgets, while the Care Quality Commission recently warned that the health and care system is “straining at the seams”.

Efforts to confront the long-standing funding challenges in health and care have been undermined by conventional party politics. In signing up to the letter, the group of MPs are putting forward a genuine and constructive offer to the prime minister to assist in finding an agreed way forward to avoid more people missing out on vital care and support.

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk and Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:

“Tribal politics has failed to provide a solution to the existential challenges facing the NHS and social care. We know that the current situation is unsustainable, and these pressures will only get worse as we contend with an ageing population and rising demand for care and treatment.

“This letter shows the strength of cross-party support for a new approach based on co-operation instead of political point-scoring.  The fact that so many senior MPs and former cabinet ministers support this initiative is remarkable. Now the Government must act on it.”

Dr. Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes and Chair of the Health Select Committee, said:

“The funding and workforce challenges facing our NHS and social care services are immense. Finding a long term, sustainable solution must be raised up the government’s domestic agenda. The public want to see this resolved and this letter demonstrates the willingness of politicians to work constructively across party lines to make it happen.

“I hope the Prime Minister will welcome this opportunity to build a consensus and deliver a long term solution for both the NHS and social care.”

Leicester West MP Liz Kendall, former Shadow Care Minister, said:

“Our population is ageing, more people need help and support and our care services desperately need more money to cope, yet any party that comes up with a significant proposal for funding social care risks their political opponents destroying them.

“We could carry on like this for yet another parliament, and yet another election, or we could face up to reality: we will only get lasting change if we secure a cross-party approach.”


The Rt. Hon Theresa May MP Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

Dear Prime Minister,

The case for a cross-party NHS and Care Convention

You will recall that you met with a group of select committee chairs and former ministers on 1st February this year to discuss our call for the government to establish an NHS and Care Convention. This would work on a cross-party basis and engage with the public with the aim of delivering a sustainable settlement guaranteeing the future of these vital services.

ln putting forward this proposal, we recognised that the NHS and the care system face enormous challenges but that conventional partisan politics had failed to come up with solutions. We also took the view that there was a real urgency about confronting the pressures that the NHS and the social care system face. We understand that fixing this is immensely challenging and involves difficult choices. We all recognise, though, that patients and those needing care are too often failed by a system under considerable strain.

At the meeting in February, you agreed to us meeting with your health adviser in order to continue the discussion on our proposal. Following this constructive exchange we very much hoped that we could find an agreed way forward.

Since then, the General Election has interrupted our plans, but the need for action is greater now than ever. The Care Quality Commission, in its recent report, ‘The State of Health Care and Adult Social Care in England 2076/77’ stated that patients are feeling the effects “as the complex patchwork of health and social care strains at the seams.”

With the Budget coming up, we hope that the government will seek to address the short term pressures on the system. But we also repeat our call for you to endorse our proposal to establish a cross-party process in the form of an NHS and Care Convention in order to deliver a sustainable, long term settlement. We are all committed to assist in finding an agreed way forward. We believe that together we owe a duty to the people of this country to confront the serious challenges the NHS and the care system now face.

This would give hope both to the public and to staff working in the NHS and the social care system, many of whom have real anxieties about the future sustainability of vital services.

This is a genuine and serious proposal and we look forward to receiving your response. We have also written to the Chancellor in similar terms.

Norman Lamb MP

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP

Liz Kendall MP

Bim Afolami MP
Peter Aldous MP
Heidi Alexander MP
Rushanara Ali MP
Heidi Allen MP
lan Austin MP
Adrian Bailey MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Henry Bellingham MP
Hilary Benn MP
Richard Benyon MP
Luciana Berger MP
Clive Betts MP
Crispin Blunt MP
Nick Boles MP
Peter Bone MP
Tom Brake MP
Sir Vince Cable MP
Alistair Carmichael MP
Sarah Champion MP
Rehman Chisti MP
Ann Coffey MP
Mary Creagh MP
Jim Cunningham MP
Sir Ed Davey MP
Steve Double MP
Julie Elliott MP
Tim Farron MP
Frank Field MP
Ca roline Flint MP
Paul Flynn MP
George Freeman MP
Marcus Fysh MP
Mike Gapes MP
James Gray MP
Kate Green MP
Rob Halfon MP
Trudy Harrison MP
Helen Hayes MP
Meg Hillier MP
Wera Hobhouse MP
Kate Hoey MP
George Howarth MP
Christine Jardine MP
Darren Jones MP
Stephen Kinnock MP
Peter Kyle MP
Jeremy Lefroy MP
Chris Leslie MP
Julian Lewis MP
Stephen Lloyd MP
Rachel MacLean MP
Seema Malhotra MP
John Mann MP
Pat McFadden MP
Alison McGovern MP
Catherine McKinnell MP
Mark Menzies MP
Johnny Mercer MP
Andrew Mitchell MP
Layla Moran MP
Nicky Morgan MP
Grahame Morris MP
Andrew Murrison MP
Bob Neill MP
Sir Mike Penning MP
Rachel Reeves MP
Andrew Rosindell MP
Sir Nicholas Soames MP
Gavin Shuker MP
Ruth Smeeth MP
Angela Smith MP
Gareth Snell MP
Jamie Stone MP
Gary Streeter MP
Wes Streeting MP
Graham Stringer MP
Jo Swinson MP
Hugo Swire MP
Derek Thomas MP
Anna Turley MP
Stephen Twigg MP
Chuka Umunna MP
David Warburton MP
Paul Williams MP
Phil Wilson MP
John Woodcock MP


3 Responses

  1. Mike Squires says:

    Abolishing the internal market in the NHS would save billions.That should be the first step. No need for a commission for that

    • Mike Smith says:

      Agree whole heartedly. Get rid of out-sourcing and the private companies such as Virgin and

      The idea of co-operation is an essential part of the NHS but that principle has been destroyed by the Tories and their fragmentation, currently into 44 parts, sardonically called Footprints. A crushing boot to head more like.

      Improving health among the population isn’t going to happen by limiting access to operations or centralising services miles from patients and families and friends. Neither will it succeed with the levels of poverty and poor housing and the millions with little or nothing left as disposable income. Bringing in American health ” solutions ” just wastes yet more money and inevitable failure.

  2. Janet Williams says:

    It’s great that these knowledgeable people have risen above party politics. I hope this, along with the judicial revues will have an effect. The main drain on the NHS in my opinion too is the private companies making huge profits from cherry picking services, leaving the least profitable ones and leaving the NHS to pick up the pieces of their treatments when they can’t cope. And PFIs are still being started.
    I hope things can move fast and they are listened to.

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