NHS Spending

Part of EU Nationals in the Uk – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 6th July 2016.

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Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Health) 6:30 pm, 6th July 2016

God, the pressure.

We recognise that this figure of £350 million a week chimed with people in the country, because people are concerned about the funding of the NHS. The Secretary of State for Health talks about an extra £8 billion going forward, plus the additional £2 billion that was added to that, which was for bailing out massive debts. However, that is a change of description. Normally, funding is described as being for the Department of Health, but that is just NHS England. Public Health England and Health Education England were facing cuts of £3.5 billion. Therefore, the extra money going forward is only £4.5 billion. We have heard Members talk about their local trusts being in deficit. This is now so widespread, it cannot be blamed on management.

Despite the fact that the NHS somehow always managed to come out just in the black up to April 2013 and has been careering into the red ever since, the Secretary of State never seems to accept that this is to do with the Health and Social Care Act 2012 changes and the huge administration costs of outsourcing and fragmentation. The Secretary of State lays the blame for all this with agency staff.

Given the debate that we have just had on EU nationals working in this country, particularly in our public services, I have to say that we could be facing an absolute meltdown. We have 50,000 nurses and doctors from the EU in the NHS, and almost 80,000 careworkers. The Minister for Immigration hinted that those who have been here for over five years can stay, but that their benefits and rights may not be quite the same. So my husband, who is from Germany, can stay, but is his pension going to disappear? He has worked here for 30 years, but what protections will he no longer have? What about the people who have been here for less than five years—the high-flying researchers, academics or medics —who could go somewhere else? Do the Government really think that these people are just going to sit at home with their families until the last possible minute? No, we are going to lose them, and agency costs for nurses and doctors will go through the roof. For social careworkers, it will not matter: they do not earn over £35,000, so they are unlikely to get to stay, and we are unlikely to be able to replace to them.

As well as the fact that the £8 billion we always hear about is not actually £8 billion, we know that local government has faced huge cuts and, as was referred to earlier, that social care is where the real problem lies. The NHS money is just going to haemorrhage out the back door.

The £350 million a week figure that was painted on that bus was a disgrace. The shadow Health Secretary, Ms Abbott, talked about it being an Eton game, but I think that it was an Eton mess. People were just playing with the facts. The rebate was not included. Public service payments, such as the common agricultural policy and regional funds, were not included. However, as the Secretary of State says, when we get down to the £110 million or so a week, that does not include all the other benefits that support the NHS and our economy. How much will it cost us to take part in Horizon 2020? How much does Switzerland have to pay to be part of this?

This is going to cost a lot of money. The Secretary of State said that it would take a 0.06% fall in GDP to negate the £100 million, but economists estimate that the fall will be between 1% and 3%. We do not want that to happen, but all the experts agreed that that was the likely outcome.

Like most people in Scotland, I absolutely believed in the remain campaign, but to me, there was a poverty to the debate. Why are we having these two debates today instead of before 23 June? We had very little open discussion of the issues in this place. One of the problems is that we have never talked about anything good that we have got from the EU in the past 40 years. Of course, I have been lucky—I got my other half from the EU—but, to be honest, most of us have had many gains. We have cleaner air and cleaner water, and we have tackled acid rain. We have cleaner beaches. We have a single European medicines agency, so new drugs get to patients quicker. That agency is located here in London, but it is unlikely to remain here.