NHS (Private Sector)

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 8:03 pm on 16th January 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley The Secretary of State for Health 8:03 pm, 16th January 2012

Let me explain to the hon. Gentleman. The average time that patients waited for in-patient elective procedures in the NHS according to the latest data was 8.4 weeks, which is exactly the same as at the time of the last general election. For out-patients it was 3.9 weeks, compared to 4.3 weeks at the election. For diagnostic tests, despite the fact that the NHS has performed 440,000 more diagnostic tests, the average waiting time is 1.8 weeks, the same as at the election. Long waits? The hon. Gentleman did not say that according to the latest data published the number of patients waiting more than a year for their treatment went down 40%, compared to what we inherited from the Government at the time of the last election.

The motion is all about Labour’s going back to the past. I am staggered. It is almost like revisiting Barbara Castle’s antipathy towards the private sector, or that of Frank Dobson, the only former Labour Secretary of State now, even including himself, that the right hon. Member for Leigh seems to agree with.

I will ask the House to reject the motion, but in a way I am asking the House to reject those sentiments all over again, because we have been here before with this debate. Far from the House not having had an opportunity to consider issues including the private income cap, I remember having exactly this debate on Report. We were very clear about that. We discussed it when the White Paper was published, we discussed it when the Bill was debated on Second Reading, when it was in Committee and on Report, and it has been debated again in another place. I hope to use this opportunity to trample on some of the myths that the right hon. Member for Leigh and his Friends are propagating about the Bill.