If that were the case, it would be a problem. I think that the two things could happen in parallel. We could work towards a consensus about future funding at the same time as focusing relentlessly on what needs to be done in the here and now. However, I agree that if it were a distraction, it would be a problem.
As well as continuing to have a relentless focus on tackling variation, we need to follow the evidence in healthcare. When money is stretched, we must be sure not only that we spend it in a way that follows the evidence, but that we do not waste money in the system. I caution the Minister on the issue of seven-day services, which we have discussed at the Health Committee. If there is evidence that GP surgeries are empty on a Sunday afternoon because there is no demand, and in parallel with that we are being told that out-of-hours services are in danger of collapse because, in a financially stretched system, there are not the resources or manpower to offer both, we must be led by the evidence and be prepared to change what we are doing.
When money is tight, we owe it to our patients to focus on the things that really will improve their care. There must be no delay in making changes when we know that something that has been put in place with the best possible intentions may be having unintended consequences. We must be clear that we will follow the evidence on best practice and value for money, so that patients get the best outcomes in a financially stretched system.