NHS and Social Care Commission

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:29 pm on 28th January 2016.

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Photo of Phillip Lee Phillip Lee Conservative, Bracknell 1:29 pm, 28th January 2016

Again, I agree with the hon. Lady—we are making a habit of this. I held a series of public meetings at which people were initially against my position, but when they understood that I was trying to provide more services closer to home, but that this might mean their having to travel a bit further for acute care, they accepted it and became broadly supportive.

I am under no illusions about the difficulty of all this, but if there is one goal we should all seek in the NHS, it is better clinical outcomes. At the moment, clinical outcomes are not as good as they should be. The much-trumpeted Commonwealth Fund report made that clear. Part of the problem—perhaps a significant part—is where the care is currently being delivered. The junior doctors strikes, which have just been paused; the consultant contracts; the nursing contracts to come—all these would be made easier with a structure in place that is more easily staffed. It would be easier to avoid husband-and-wife doctor teams being split if we had bigger hospitals with bigger staff pools to provide the cover.

We need to concentrate first on the structure of healthcare, and social care—I am conscious I have not spoken about social care, but of course it should be integrated; it is so obvious. But let us concentrate on the structure of healthcare first, as part of a cross-party approach, and then perhaps we can have a debate about finance. I suggest to the right hon. Member for North Norfolk, however, that finance might be a harder nut to crack than the hospitals, on which I think there is a broad consensus that we are all in it for the same outcomes: people recovering from their illnesses; people being treated appropriately when they have operations; and ultimately everybody, irrespective of means, leading long, health lives.