The NHS will devolve 82 per cent. of its revenue budget to primary care trust control, giving more money to the front line than ever before next year. Local organisations supported within a robust national framework are best placed to secure value for money on local services, as they understand the real needs of their community.
I accept that value for money for patients is a primary determinant, but does my hon. Friend think that the controls on PCTs, both democratic and governmental, are sufficient to ensure that value for money is always obtained and that when, for example, GPs enter into joint ventures with the private sector for primary care premises, we can ensure that best value for health is obtained?
I believe that the system is robust. Local improvement finance trust schemes have already injected £1.3 billion of investment into primary care. In our area, as my hon. Friend will know, the Wirral PCT has just won a national award as the best in the country. Both his constituency's primary care facilities, and those in my constituency at the Victoria Central hospital, are achieving huge increases in investment, all of which was opposed by the Opposition.
I recently had the privilege of opening a new £8.1 million primary care centre in my constituency, which left my constituents in no doubt that Labour is the party of the NHS. Will my hon. Friend continue to prioritise spending on health care so that they continue to receive the benefits of sound, costed investment, instead of being seduced by the promises and pipe dreams of the Opposition?
I agree with my hon. Friend. Over the past 10 years we have seen a 17 per cent. fall in cancer deaths and a 17 per cent. increase in operations, with 1 million more operations being done and 1.8 million more out-patient attendances. That is good value for money for the doubling of investment, in real terms, in the NHS that has happened under this Government, thanks to the success of our economic policy, which has provided money for us to invest in the things that people really care about.