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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 Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health and Social Care) 5:06 pm, 18th June 2018

I echo the comments made about the approach of the NHS’s 70-year anniversary across the four countries of the UK, having myself spent a fair chunk of those 70 years—perhaps slightly longer than I care to admit—working in the NHS.

Like most people present, I imagine, I absolutely welcome the additional funding, which has been described as bringing the UK to the same level of spending as France by 2023. In that description is, though, the admission that we do not spend the equivalent of what France spends right now. Indeed, we saw a deficit of almost £1 billion in 2017-18, despite transformation funding being sucked in to try to clear that deficit.

I echo what Dr Wollaston said: is transformation funding on top of this funding? If it is just revenue funding, will there be a separate announcement about transformation funding? The Secretary of State also mentioned the need for prevention, yet we do not see any mention of money for public health. That is where we need to be doing prevention.

It is said that we need a 3.9% increase in social care spending, but that is not identified in the statement. If the Green Paper is to come only in the autumn, social care may not get real funding until next year. With the demographic challenge that the Secretary of State mentioned, that is just too far away. The NHS has faced, on average, an uplift of 1.2% over the past eight years, according to the King’s Fund. Taking it up to 3.4% brings it more in line with the traditional uplifts that we have seen, and yet, in actual fact, with an ageing population, the pressure is even higher. Hopefully, this will stop the slide of the NHS, but the NHS Confederation says that it is not possible to transform on this kind of money. It is, therefore, important that these other projects are looked at separately and are funded separately.

As for where that money is to come from, I do not know how the Prime Minister kept a straight face when she talked about the Brexit dividend. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that there will not be a dividend. The Office for Budget Responsibility talks about a £15 billion drop in public service and finances. I want to know how the rise will be funded. Will it all be just borrowing and tax rises? The Government should be honest about how they will fund this rise.