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NHS Outsourcing and Privatisation

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 6:53 pm on 23rd May 2018.

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Photo of Steve Barclay Steve Barclay Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 6:53 pm, 23rd May 2018

The Government oppose the motion. There is no complaint from the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, my hon. Friend Dr Wollaston, about papers sought and not provided. Indeed, there are no papers, according to the evidence that the Secretary of State read out at the start of the debate, which was provided to him by officials. There is no logic to the motion when, as several Members pointed out, there has been no increase in the share of NHS spending on the private sector over the past year. As my hon. Friend Tom Pursglove in particular highlighted, the rate of increase has been slower under this Government than it was under previous Governments.

As my hon. Friend Kevin Foster pointed out, that is perhaps why so few Labour Members wanted to address the motion. As my hon. Friend Alex Chalk said, the motion contradicts both legislation passed by the Labour Government in the form of the Freedom of Information Act, and numerous statements made by senior Labour politicians such as the former Foreign Secretary and Member for Blackburn in his evidence to the Chilcot inquiry.

Instead, there was a mix of confusion and division among Opposition Members. Karen Lee, who is not in her place and did not stay for the speech of Karin Smyth, said that there is no logic to the use of the private sector, but in a well-informed and measured speech Dr Williams said that sometimes it should be enabled. That point was conceded in the Chamber today by Labour Front Benchers, and in numerous media interviews, including on the “Victoria Derbyshire” show. They seem confused as to whether they welcome the use of the private sector.

The confusion extended to the remarks of Liz Twist. She said that Gateshead trust is very good, yet she seems to ignore the fact that the legislation on subsidiaries was passed under a Labour Government. The staff survey for that trust shows that the subsidiary has a satisfaction rate that is 15% higher than it was in the NHS as a whole. Because of her ideology, she seemed to suggest that her constituents working within that trust, which is 100% owned by the NHS, are wrong.

As my hon. Friends the Members for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) and for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately) pointed out, there was a rewriting of history. The Labour Government before 2010 embraced the private sector. As illustrated in Wrexham, contracts in Wales are given to the private sector when Labour is in office. Labour Members say one thing in opposition and do something else in office. We have seen the contradiction today. Labour Members say that they dislike accountable care organisations and that they are a form of privatisation. It might surprise colleagues to learn that the Mayor of Greater Manchester, the former Labour Secretary of State for Health, is seeking to pilot an ACO because he recognises the benefits of integration.

The House heard misleading statements today. We were told by Debbie Abrahams that there has been a slow and steady erosion of the NHS as a provider, even though the facts show a zero increase in the private sector share of NHS spending. My hon. Friend Huw Merriman highlighted the fact that private sector involvement was embraced, sought and progressed by the Blair Government.

That rewriting of history was further underlined by the Labour Members’ PFI amnesia. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pointed out, the NHS has £80 billion of PFI contracts and a £200 billion a year spend on PFI. Labour Members mentioned Carillion—12 of the 13 Carillion contracts for service management were entered into under the Labour Government.[This section has been corrected on 11 June 2018, column 4MC — read correction]

The reality is that this Government are investing more in our NHS and delivering more outcomes for patients. Some 2,500 more patients a day are seen within the four-hour A&E target. We are training more dentists. The hon. Members for Lincoln and for Canterbury (Rosie Duffield) failed to mention the extra medical training places offered in their constituencies as part of the Government’s investment.

The Conservatives have run the NHS for the majority of its 70 years. This Government are investing in our NHS and treating more people in it. This Government will ensure that the NHS remains fit for the future.