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[Un-alloted Half Day] — Future of the NHS

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:07 pm on 9th May 2011.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley The Secretary of State for Health 4:07 pm, 9th May 2011

If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I will give way again a little later, but first I want to make a couple of further points.

The House knows of my commitment to the NHS; Opposition Members know of that, too. They know that I have not spent seven and a half years as shadow Secretary and Secretary of State to see the NHS undermined, fragmented or privatised. They know that that was never my intention; it is not my intention. Before the last election, we were absolutely clear that we would protect the NHS, but we are doing more than just protecting it; we are strengthening it. We are enabling clinicians to lead a more integrated, responsive, accountable NHS—not fragmented, not privatised, not based on access to insurance, and not compromising quality for price—and, equally, an NHS that is not run by a top-down, unaccountable bureaucracy, but that is locally led and locally accountable.

As the right hon. Member for Wentworth and Dearne admitted, this is a comprehensive, consistent and coherent vision, and it is an evolution of the better policies of the last 20 years. It was the last Labour Government who introduced patient choice; we will extend it and give patients the information they need to make it work. It was the last Labour Government who introduced practice-based commissioning; we will make it real, with health professionals designing integrated pathways of care with decision-making responsibilities. It was the last Labour Government who introduced foundation trusts; we will deliver on their broken promise to take all NHS trusts to foundation status. It was the last Labour Government who introduced payment by results, but left it half baked, distorting services and hindering joined-up care; we will change it so that it genuinely supports the best care for patients. Of course, it was the last Labour Government who brought the independent sector and competition into the NHS, but we will not follow their lead by giving the independent and private sector providers the opportunity to cherry-pick services and by giving them financial advantages over NHS providers.