There will be an extra £50 billion to invest in public services if the Liberal Democrats win in next month’s general election and revoke Article 50 to stop the UK exiting the EU, party leader Jo Swinson said on Wednesday.
Britain goes to polls on December 12 in the third general election since 2015.
Swinson made the statement during a visit to the headquarters of pharmacy wholesalers Sigma Pharmaceuticals in Watford, as part of her party’s election campaign.
Stating that the “Brexit situation” was making it harder for pharmaceutical suppliers, the Lib Dem leader cited Sigma as a “great example of some of the challenges” facing the UK’s economy.
“What they do here at Sigma is hugely important for the NHS and for the supply of medication. They also have a whole division importing pharmaceutical products from other European countries and then being able to use them within our own health service and NHS. The Brexit situation is making all that harder,” Swinson said.
Sigma Pharmaceuticals executive director Paras Shah said he was “desperate” for the Brexit saga to end because it would result in stock shortages and also “adversely affect” prices of essential medicines.
During her visit, the Lib Dem leader also stressed the importance of people’s wellbeing as November 6 was National Stress Awareness Day. Stating that there was a huge amount to do to put mental and physical health on the same footing, Swinson said: “We are focusing on plans to invest in mental health which is a huge issue for so many.
“It is woefully under-resourced within our NHS, so we are setting out plans for £11 billion of extra investment in mental health which will allow many more people to access talking therapies and to make sure we can plug the gaps in the mental health work force.”
Swinson also met NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette and heard how community pharmacies are a mainstay of primary care and could do even more to improve patient access and wellbeing given further investment.
“It’s important that we work together to get across to politicians the simple and consistent message that pharmacies can be an answer to the NHS access crisis – given the right framework of policy, regulation and investment. Jo Swinson listened carefully to what I had to say and we will take the same message to the other political parties across the UK,” Lyonette said.
Commenting on the visit, Sigma CEO, Dr Bharat Shah CBE, said “We are truly honoured to have Jo Swinson visit our site and for her appreciation of what we’re up against going forward.
“Regardless of how the vote goes in December, any elected government needs to give serious thought and address the key issues surrounding the health of the nation, of which pharmacy plays a crucial role”.
The Liberal Democrat leader, accompanied by a number of party officials, was given a tour of the factory, including Sigma’s new FMD-compliant warehouse and packaging unit, where she interacted with members of staff.
She was said to be impressed by what she saw at Sigma, one of the UK’s largest independent pharmaceutical wholesalers.