NHS and Social Care Commission

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 28th January 2016.

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Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health) 12:32 pm, 28th January 2016

I totally agree with the hon. Gentleman’s last point, but also his substantive point. The problem is that these are all ad hoc arrangements that are about good leaders doing something despite the system, not because of it. We have to mainstream this and align the incentives throughout the healthcare system so that everyone is focused on preventing ill health, preventing deterioration of health, and getting people better as quickly as possible.

Let me give an example of the pressure that the system is facing. It is fair to say, as a gentle challenge to the Government, that this year we are not seeing the data on accident and emergency pressures over the winter period, so the situation is slightly hidden from view. However, I heard that on Tuesday this week all the hospitals in Hertfordshire, north London, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire were on black alert, which occurs, in essence, when hospitals are completely full and under enormous pressure. One of the key system leaders in that area said that he had not seen anything like it for 20 years. This is happening at a time when there is no flu epidemic, and certainly no severe weather. This is one of the mildest winters on record, and yet we are seeing hospitals placed under impossible pressure.