At their party conference in Bournemouth, Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb outlined the party's latest proposals on health. New directly-elected local health boards (re-named primary care trusts [PCTs]) would be linked into to the Lib Dem proposal for a new local income tax scheme, and thus would be able to reward people for health-promoting behaviour such as taking regular exercise or attending regular medical screenings.

More benefits or tax back
Lamb told a press conference, "you have got to find a way to incentivise better health". Her outlined ideas that people on benefits and thus not paying income tax might be able to get higher levels of benefits if they complied with such a scheme. Taxpayers, he added, could see their local income tax reduced or even returned for those on low incomes.

While suggesting that a swipe card system might monitor people's claims of, for example, gym attendance, Lamb also outlined the party's proposals to abolish the NHS's national IT programme, NHS Connecting For Health. He also reaffirmed the previously-announced intention to scrap the intermediate tier of NHS Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs), which have been tasked with ensuring delivery of each region's Darzi plans.

Bill of Rights
Lamb defined the proposed Patients Bill of Rights as "a guaranteed right to treatment within a defined period of time, your treatment paid for privately if that time limit is missed. A right to choose, with your GP's advice, the appropriate clinician and to have a central say in treatment options. And the right to information to guide your decision making and the support of an independent patient advocate if needed".

He also promised that "our people's NHS will see direct payments and individual budgets used by those with chronic long term conditions and in mental health services."

A farewell to arms (length bodies)
On the abolition front, he also hinted at a review of some of the NHS arms' length bodies "HMAC, the IRP, the CHRE and the CCP ... goodbye to the gravy train for defeated politicians who run them". (These acronyms stand for the Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee,the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence and the Centre for Clinical Practice)

This theme was gleefully taken up by Lib Dem Treasury spokesman and deputy leader Vincent Cable, who announced that the party would see a review of all non-front-line public sector employees heading public bodies earning over £100,000 a year - they would have to re-apply for their jobs and if re-appointed, accept reduced pay and pension contributions.