Paul Ray

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Lichfield and Burntwood has defended his position on the NHS.

Paul Ray discussed the issue of healthcare in a post on his Twitter account.

He wrote: “We have a culture that the NHS should pay for everything. We spend our own money to improve our houses – why not our health?”

His comments were criticised by Class War candidate Andy Bennetts, but in an interview with LichfieldLive, Mr Ray said his party’s fundamental principle is to keep the NHS free for local people.

Paul Ray. Pic: Lewis Deakin
Paul Ray. Pic: Lewis Deakin

He said: “I and my party do not advocate that the NHS should charge fees. We believe that the NHS must remain free at the point of delivery.

“As I previously said we are committed to funding the extra £8billion per annum that the NHS needs and to give equality for mental health services.

“The point behind my tweet was that we do all need to look at the demand on the NHS. The NHS can’t be there to perform all of the procedures we want. There will be some procedures that are not health critical, and so shouldn’t we as a country say that I will save and pay for that rather than expecting the NHS to pay for everything?”

NHS England boss Simon Stevens has said the health service faces a £30billion funding gap by 2020.

He plans to raise £22billion through NHS efficiency savings, but admits the remaining £8billion must come from central government.

The Liberal Democrats health plan involves capping pension tax relief, scrapping the Conservatives shares for rights scheme and through a dividend tax squeeze.

The party say they would use £2billion from the Autumn Statement to fund the NHS – before investing an extra £1billion in 2016, and use economic growth to meet the shortfall in funding.

Andy Bennetts
Andy Bennetts

Mental health would also receive an extra £500million a year under Liberal Democrat plans.

But Mr Bennetts believes NHS charging will be introduced in the next parliament, regardless of who forms the government.

He has again urged the people of Lichfield and Burntwood not to vote on May 7.

“Voting won’t make any difference,” the Class War candidate said. “The British Medical Association has said after this election charges are going to be introduced into the NHS, by whoever forms the next government – you can’t vote to stop that.”

The candidates standing in the Lichfield constituency in May are:

  • Andy Bennetts – Class War
  • Michael Fabricant – Conservatives
  • Robert Pass – Green Party
  • John Rackham – UKIP
  • Paul Ray – Lib Dem
  • Chris Worsey – Labour

Lewis Deakin

NCTJ-trained reporter with experience in a wide variety of journalism settings.