The Government are undertaking a wide range of analysis in support of our EU exit negotiations and preparations. Our overall programme of work is comprehensive, thorough and continuously updated.
Brexit poses major challenges for the NHS and, in particular, the beleaguered and neglected hospitals of East Kent. Can the Minister reassure me—and the Royal College of Midwives and other bodies—that we will be able to recruit much needed migrant worker staff to the health and social care sector and will encourage them to stay after March 2019?
We will remain committed to attracting the brightest and best. The hon. Lady says that her area is “beleaguered”; I remind her that the Kent and Medway sustainability and transformation partnership received £101.2 million more than it received in the previous year.
Nearly 10,000 EU citizens work in the social care sector, caring for some of the most vulnerable people in society. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that there will be no shortage of people working in that sector once we have left the EU?
My hon. Friend has raised an extremely important point. The Home Secretary recently announced a settlement scheme to enable those staff from the European economic area to remain. However, it is also important for us not to scare EU nationals, and to point out that there are now 4,500 more non-UK EU nationals working in the NHS than there were two years ago, at the time of the referendum. There is often a sense that there are fewer, but that is not the case.
The number of vulnerable adults in Newcastle is rising by 20% each year. The over-85 population is set to rise by 60% in the next decade, and additional cost pressures will mean £30 million in extra costs over the next three years. How is Newcastle City Council supposed to meet the adult social care budget, given the cuts that have been made in it? I ask the Minister please not to mention the adult social care precept, because it does not even begin to cover those costs.
I would have expected the hon. Lady to welcome the additional funds that have been announced—not just the £2 billion for social care, but the extra £20.5 billion a year, in real terms, that will be delivered through the long-term funding settlement. Instead of criticising that funding, the hon. Lady should welcome the Government’s commitment to increasing funds for the NHS and ensuring that it remains fit for the future.
Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the big benefits of our leaving the European Union is that we will not be sending billions of pounds a year to Brussels, and can instead spend that money on our health service, as per the new funding settlement?
My hon. Friend is right to draw the House’s attention to the fact that there are a number of benefits from leaving the EU, not just in terms of the dividend to which he refers, but in terms of flexibility, for example in—[Interruption.] Labour Members do not seem to want to hear about the opportunities: opportunities on life sciences for example, in terms of getting medicines through in shorter timescales; opportunities on immigration; opportunities on professional qualifications; opportunities even on food labelling. It is important that we take those opportunities, as my hon. Friend says.
I too welcome the Secretary of State to his place. Membership of the European Medicines Agency has enabled early access to new drugs for UK patients through a single Europe-wide licensing system for a population of 500 million. Can the Minister clarify whether it is still the Government’s intention to remain a member of the EMA, and perhaps explain why on earth they voted against the EMA amendment last Tuesday?
As the hon. Lady will be aware, we accepted the amendment, and it is our intention to work as closely as possible on that as part of taking that forward—[Interruption.] To correct the—[Interruption.]
Order. To be fair, it is a speedy correction.
This is a near instantaneous correction, Mr Speaker, to recognise that what I should have clarified is that, following the vote in the House, it is our intention to work as closely as possible with that, and we recognise the point the hon. Lady makes.
It is still rather hard to understand why the Government voted against it in the first place. There is no current associate membership of the EMA for the UK to re-join as a third country, so if it is not possible to stay in the EMA what is the plan to avoid delays of up to a year in the licensing of new drugs for UK patients?
There are a number of things that can be taken advantage of. We can use the flexibilities we have in terms of assessments with shorter timescales so that we can prioritise UK drugs that are bespoke to the UK market. There will be opportunities as part of this, as well as our working closely with European colleagues.