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NHS Outsourcing and Privatisation

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 4:56 pm on 23rd May 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 4:56 pm, 23rd May 2018

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point, which would be echoed by many Government Members who represent rural constituencies. There is a balance to be struck between the benefits of specialist surgery, where greater volumes of a particular procedure are done, leading to better outcomes for patients, and the trade-off that we make with travel times. I know that that is something that the local NHS, in all parts of the UK, thinks through very carefully.

There is another myth we always get from the Labour party that I think it is very important to dispel: the narrative about the NHS being in total decline. Let us be clear about the pressures facing the NHS. We had to deal with the financial crisis of 2008, which left this country’s coffers empty. We have had to deal with the fact that over the last seven years, we have had half a million more over-75s. We had to deal with a crisis of care at Mid Staffs, which turned out to be a problem affecting many other parts of the NHS.

Yes, it is true that we are missing some important targets at the moment, but let us not forget the extraordinary things that have been achieved despite that pressure, such as for cancer. We inherited some of the lowest cancer survival rates in western Europe. In 2010, only 10% of patients got intensity-modulated radiotherapy; that figure is now 44%. We have two new proton beam therapy machines—at The Christie and University College London Hospitals—and there are 7,000 people alive today who would not be had we stayed with the cancer survival rates of 2010. Every day, 168 more people start cancer treatment than did in 2010. This is a huge step forward.

On mental health, previously we had no national talking therapy service for people with anxiety and depression; today, 1,500 more people are starting or benefiting from talking therapy services every single day, and we have huge plans to extend mental health provision to 1 million more people.