With next month’s general election closing in fast, the Liberal Democrats have now unveiled plans to establish a £2.5 billion fund to help keep people out of hospitals.

The ‘Care Closer to Home’ fund will see a yearly investment of £500 million to provide care to people in their own homes, GP surgeries, care homes and community clinics.

Under the policy, GP surgeries should be able to provide services traditionally given in hospitals, such as X rays and other tests, and care in care in homes will be expanded to help side-step expensive hospital visits.

According to Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg, the new fund “creates a fairer society, getting patients the right care, at the right time, in the right place with more control over their treatment and support”.

The party is also claiming that it is the only one to have committed to £8 billion a year in extra cash for the NHS to fill the gaping hole in its funds.

NHS bosses have warned that by 2020 the NHS budget gap will have swelled to £30 billion unless efficiency savings of £22 billion can be generated and the Treasury streams an extra £8 billion a year into the system.