The NHS Confederation has welcomed Liberal Democrat calls for patients to be given more powers through locally-elected health boards.
The party’s health spokesman Norman Lamb also said there should be a “local health contribution” – a tax to pay for regional services which would be offset by reductions in income tax.
The Lib Dems also want to create a “patient’s contract” outlining people’s entitlements, regardless of where they live.
Party chiefs are also pledging to look at introducing more direct payments, and personal budgets.
Mr Lamb said: “The Liberal Democrats are committed to an NHS which delivers high quality health services to all, irrespective of income.
“In today’s highly centralised NHS there is a real ‘democratic deficit’, with too many decisions made in Whitehall.”
NHS Confederation chief executive Dr Gill Morgan said: “With greater local autonomy comes the need for better systems for local accountability, and we agree that this is something that needs to be examined as an essential part of allowing our members the leeway to improve services according to local conditions.”
But a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We are already devolving decision-making so that the NHS responds to the needs and wants of the public, making ministers increasingly accountable for what the NHS provides, rather than how it is provided.”
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