Election 2015

Clegg urges major parties to 'come clean' on NHS funds

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionNick Clegg said the Tories would make excessive cuts because they would not make the wealthiest pay "a penny more"

Nick Clegg is challenging David Cameron and Ed Miliband to show how they would find the £8bn NHS bosses in England say is needed to preserve services.

The Lib Dem leader threw down the gauntlet as he pledged to spend an extra £3.5bn over six years on mental health.

He said the issue had been neglected by successive governments.

Conservatives say they have cut red tape to invest in NHS staff. Labour would halt privatisation of the NHS.

Mr Clegg outlined his party's health policy ahead of a grilling from The Only Way is Essex star Joey Essex, who said he had thought the party was called the Liberal Demo-cats.

Essex is currently making the Educating Joey Essex programme, which he said was "to show the youth they should vote and it's a good thing".

False impressions?

Last year Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, said there was an £8bn-a-year funding gap between what the NHS gets and what it needs.

Mr Clegg said the Lib Dems would meet the shortfall from £2bn already allocated in the Autumn Statement and by closing some of the reliefs on capital gains tax and the Conservative shares for rights scheme.

By "balancing the books" the Lib Dems would also be able to invest £3.5bn over six years on mental health care in England, which would include £250m for new services for mothers suffering from depression and to help reduce waiting times.

"It's a plan that means we can commit to giving the NHS the money it needs - an extra £8bn by 2020 - that's how much Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, has asked for," he said.

"Labour hasn't committed to it. The Conservatives try to give the impression that they have, but they haven't."

'Time to come clean'

Mr Clegg said the Conservatives "won't ask the wealthiest to pay a penny more, so every spending commitment they make has to be made by deeper and deeper cuts elsewhere.

"The Conservatives are trying to pull the wool over your eyes by not telling you how they will give the NHS the resources it needs.

"It's no good, as Labour do, to just say you love the NHS but offer no commitment to find the money it so badly needs....

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionJoey Essex revealed that prior to meeting Nick Clegg he believed the deputy PM's party was called the "Liberal Democats"

"It's only the Liberal Democrats who will make sure spending on the NHS rises with the economy later in the Parliament to ensure it gets to the extra £8bn a year it needs by 2020.

"So Ed Miliband, David Cameron, it's time to come clean: Will you or will you not give the NHS the £8bn a year by 2020 that it needs and tell us how you plan to fund it? The Liberal Democrats have. If you care about the NHS as much as you claim to, you should too."

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, welcomed the announcement and said he hoped the other major parties would follow suit.

After Mr Clegg's encounter with Joey Essex, who thought he led the "Liberal Demo-cats", the Lib Dems changed their official homepage logo from a yellow bird to a cat.

Image caption The Liberal Democrats changed their website logo in honour of Joey Essex

Subscribe to the BBC Election 2015 newsletter to get a round-up of the day's campaign news sent to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

More on this story