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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

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The principles we are pursuing are simply stated as

“a greater role for clinicians in commissioning care, more involvement of patients, less bureaucracy and greater priority on improving health outcomes”.

The right hon. Member for Wentworth and Dearne will no doubt recognise those words, because they are his own from January, when he said that he supported the general aims of our reform.

We are already delivering on our vision. We are extending patient choice and involving patients more in decisions about their care. We are cutting back Labour’s waste and reducing the bureaucracy that stifles and undermines doctors and nurses. We are putting clinicians at the heart of commissioning, with almost 90% of the country now covered by new pathfinder consortia.

We are driving down hospital-acquired infections, sustaining and improving the performance of the NHS, stopping Labour’s arbitrary box-ticking and focusing on the outcomes that matter. We have a world-leading framework for the results that matter to patients: reducing avoidable mortality; enhancing recovery after treatment; improving quality of life for those with chronic conditions; maximising safety and cutting the number of infections; and continually improving patients’ experience of their health care. Those are the outcomes for which we and the NHS will be accountable.

Let me be clear: there will be substantive changes to the Bill to deliver improvements for patients. There is only one issue for me, however: will it deliver better care for patients? That is why we will pursue NHS modernisation and why we will stick to our principles. It is why we are listening to improve the Bill. That is what the coalition Government are committed to. Today, led by the NHS future forum, we are engaging with the health service and beyond to ensure that the legislation delivers on those principles.

Unlike the Labour party, which has retreated to its union-dominated, regressive past, we will not retreat. We will be progressive with those principles. Just last week, the right hon. Gentleman called for a return to Labour’s top-down targets and for GPs to be stripped of all their financial responsibility. He has called for the NHS to be run by a bureaucracy, not by doctors and nurses. Critics of the Bill must answer this question: if they do not want patients, doctors and nurses to be in charge of the NHS, then who do they want to be in charge?

The right hon. Gentleman has turned his back on two decades of NHS modernisation. We will never accept the Labour party’s prescriptive, top-down bureaucracy or its waste. We did not accept Labour’s plan, which would have meant taking £30 billion out of the NHS in England over this Parliament and we will not follow the route that the Labour party in Wales has taken, where it is cutting the NHS. Instead, we are increasing the NHS budget over this Parliament by £11.5 billion. We will equip the NHS to deliver better and improving services by using more resources more effectively. We will empower patients with information and with choice. We will empower doctors and nurses to shape services for their patients. We will bring together the NHS, public health and social care in a combined local strategy. We will make the NHS genuinely locally led, while meeting national standards. We will focus relentlessly on the quality and outcomes we achieve for patients. We will protect the NHS and strengthen it. We will do that not by living in the past, but by modernising for the future. We want a modern service that is true to its core values. The Labour party’s motion offers no future for the NHS. We on the Government side will give the NHS a stronger future, and I urge the House to reject the Labour party’s motion.