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NHS Long-Term Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:06 pm on 18th June 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 5:06 pm, 18th June 2018

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The hon. Gentleman said just now that there is

“no such thing as a Brexit dividend”.

I have heard lots of other people say that from a sedentary position. But what did their leader say on 26 February? These were his exact words:

“and we will use the funds returned from Brussels after Brexit to invest in our public services and the jobs of the future”.

So who is right: is it the hon. Gentleman or his leader?

After paying the Brexit divorce bill this Conservative Government will use the contributions that would have gone to Brussels to fund our NHS—that is what the British people voted for. But the main reason we are able to announce today’s rise, one of the biggest ever single rises in the history of the NHS, is not the Brexit dividend, but the deficit reduction dividend, the jobs dividend, the “putting the economy back on its feet” dividend, after the wreck left behind by the Labour party. Every measure we have taken to put the economy back on its feet has been opposed by the Labour party, but without those measures there would be no NHS dividend today; with the Conservatives you don’t just get a strong NHS, you get the strong economy to pay for it.

In the next few weeks, as Labour scrabbles around to raise its offer on the NHS, we will no doubt hear that it is offering more for the NHS, but when the Labour party comes forward with that offer, the British people will know that the only reason it has done so is because a Conservative Government shamed it into doing so with an offer far more generous than anything Labour was prepared to contemplate.

Another thing I have heard said about NHS funding is, “Whatever the Conservatives offer, we’ll match and do more,” but the trouble is that the opposite is true, because under this Government NHS spending in England is up 20% in the past five-year period, but in Wales it is up just 14%. That is to say that for every extra pound per head invested in England, in Wales it is just 84p, which is why people are 70% more likely to wait too long in A&Es in Wales. The right response to this statement would be for Labour to say that every additional penny though the Barnett formula will go into the NHS in Wales, but we did not hear that pledge.

The hon. Gentleman also talked about social care, and this matters. I fully agree with him that we need to have a strong plan for social care and that it needs to go side by side with the NHS plan, and we have made some important commitments to the social care sector today. But if he is going to criticise social care cuts, he might at least ask why austerity happened. It was not, as he continually suggests, because of an ideological mission to shrink the state, but to save our economy and create jobs so that we could reinvest in public services. The evidence for that is shown today, with the first ever five-year NHS funding plan, to go alongside a 10-year plan. This is a Conservative Government putting the NHS first and shooting to pieces his phoney arguments about Conservative values.