NHS Long-Term Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:55 pm on 7th January 2019.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 5:55 pm, 7th January 2019

Well, I think we discovered from that that Labour has absolutely nothing to say about the future health of the nation. The hon. Gentleman did not even deign to thank the people who work in the NHS for their incredible work. Did we hear any acknowledgement of the million more people who are seen by the NHS, of the record levels of activity going on in the NHS and of the fact that we have more nurses and doctors in the NHS than we had in 2010? He had nothing to say. He talked about the workforce. Chapter 4 of the document is all about the workforce plan. He gives me the impression that, like his leader on Brexit, he has not even read the document he is talking about.

The hon. Gentleman asked about targets and legislation. On legislation, when clinicians make proposals on what legislation needs to change to improve the NHS, we listen. We do not then come forward with further ideological ideas. We listen. So we will listen to what they have said. The clinicians have come forward with legislative proposals and we will listen and study them closely.

On the money that the hon. Gentleman talked about, it was a bit like a broken record. He asked about a £1 billion shortfall in the NHS budget. I will tell him what we are doing with NHS budgets: we are putting them up by £20.5 billion. There is an error in the analysis by the Nuffield Trust, because it does not take into account an improvement in the efficiency of the NHS. Is it true that every year we can improve the way the NHS delivers value for taxpayers’ money? Absolutely. We can and we must, because we on the Government Benches care about the NHS and about getting the right amount of money into the NHS, but we also care about making sure that that money is spent wisely. The hon. Gentleman would do well to heed the views of the NHS itself, which says that yes, the NHS is probably the most efficient health service in the world, but there is always more to do.

The hon. Gentleman argued about various budgets. The budgets in the NHS are going up because we care about the future of the NHS. The Labour party called for an increase of 2.2% a year; we are delivering an increase of 3.4% a year. Labour has nothing to say on health, as it has nothing to say on any other area of domestic business. We will make sure that we are the party of the NHS for the long term.