Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:52 pm on 13th September 2017.

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Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland 2:52 pm, 13th September 2017

I thank the hon. Lady; I should have been clearer in saying that I support technical and academic routes into all employment in the health sector, because I understand that it is a team effort.

Over the past seven years, more than £90 million has been spent on the brand-new hospital in Whitehaven—more investment than ever before. I am delighted that we have been awarded more than £40 million of extra capital investment to refurbish and rebuild parts of the hospital estate, to bring it up to date and improve the experience of patients and staff. The funding will help to deliver faster diagnosis of conditions including cancer, easier access to mental health services and an expansion of our A&E department, leading to shorter waiting times for operations and more services in GP surgeries. There has been huge progress in improving patient care, and the funding will help to secure the highest-quality, most compassionate patient care anywhere in the world. Some £30 million of new funding will be invested across south Cumbria to modernise mental health facilities and improve A&E facilities at our hospitals, and nearly £10 million of the new capital funding has been earmarked for modernising mental health in-patient services.

Ensuring that we have a full complement of doctors, nurses and other staff on wards is essential. We simply cannot run wards without the appropriate staff. Our public sector workers, including nurses and other healthcare staff, are some of the most talented and hard-working people in the UK. Like everyone else, they deserve to have fulfilling jobs that are fairly rewarded in their take-home pay. We now have 12,000 more nurses working in our hospital wards than we did under the Labour Government, and retaining hard-working nurses and doctors is vital to maintain the service that we all appreciate. I am pleased that yesterday the Treasury decided to remove the 1% pay cap across the board.

One point I would like to draw attention to is the need to assist our talented, highly qualified medical clinicians to be able to do what they are trained to do and experienced in practising. From speaking to midwives both at my local hospital and elsewhere in our trust, I know that they are regularly spending up to three hours of their eight-hour shifts ploughing through administration work, stuck at a computer screen, rather than being out on the wards doing the work that they are trained to do—assisting mothers in labour and delivering children safely. I ask Ministers to look at innovative ways in which our trained staff can use the skills that they have.

It is the 42-year record low unemployment rate and our seven-year track record on deficit reduction that have made the end to the pay freeze possible.