NHS and Social Care Commission

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 28th January 2016.

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Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Minister of State, Department of Health 4:19 pm, 28th January 2016

If I may say so, Simon Stevens said, “Look, it needs £8 billion.” It also needs £22 billion in efficiencies. We have met the challenge and put in even more than £8 billion—by 2020 it will be £10 billion. I understand the pressures in the system and fully appreciate the right hon. Gentleman’s remarks. The King’s Fund stated in its 2015 report:

“‘Business as usual’ is not sustainable. But that does not mean the NHS is fundamentally unsustainable.”

Simon Stevens recently said:

“The NHS has a huge job of work to do ensuring an already lean health service is as efficient as it can be—which, in my assessment, people are entirely up for.”

He recently told the Health Committee, “In headline terms, £22 billion is a big number, but when you think about the practical examples and do the economic analysis, we have some pretty big opportunities in front of us.” We know that the challenge is there; nobody denies that. However, NHS England put its assessment of what it needs to the political parties at the last election. We met that challenge and were elected.

We have spoken about a process, and I will return to that in a moment. What NHS England produced was developed by it, along with Public Health England, Monitor, Health Education England, the Care Quality Commission and the NHS Trust Development Authority. The Government back the plan, but we need a strong economy to be able to do that, as a number of colleagues have said. Without trespassing too much into other areas, that is the meat of political debate in this country. The public are not just asked to make a judgment on the delivery of one particular service, however precious it is. It is about whether they think that those who are promoting their view of a particular service have the economic background to deliver it. That question was also comprehensively answered at the general election. We now have responsibility for carrying that forward. People believed that we could put the money into it, and we have done so.