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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

I suppose the one thing the right hon. Gentleman has learned about being in opposition is that it is best for a party to try to forget everything that it did in government, because it will not be held to account for it. He has also recognised that the best thing is to have no ideas of his own. He does not even seem to know whether he agrees with our ideas or opposes them. We do not have any answers from him. The right hon. Gentleman’s quotation was from the former, not current, chair of Monitor, who knows perfectly well that these measures were in our respective manifestos and were brought together in the coalition agreement. They have a mandate. From my point of view, this is not just about the electoral mandate but about how we can deliver the best care for patients and see through principles that I thought the right hon. Gentleman’s party, as well as ours, believed were right.

Let me make it clear that the challenges in the NHS are about more than just clearing up Labour’s mess. We must recognise that there are now more pensioners than children under 16, alcohol-related admissions to hospital have doubled and emergency admissions have risen by 12% in just four years. Obesity in this country has doubled in the last 25 years. Under Labour, the demand for health care was rising while productivity was falling. The only way that Labour could cover those risks was by massively increasing the budget and that is no longer an option. Mounting pressure on the NHS is inevitable and the status quo, as Labour recognises, is not an option. The NHS needs modernisation.