NHS Long-Term Plan

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons 5:55 pm, 7th January 2019

First, I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his paying tribute to the work of the late Sir Henry Willink, who served in Churchill’s Conservative Government. I met him once or twice when he became master of a Cambridge college. The Conservatives have shown respect for the NHS ever since, as he foreshadowed.

I also congratulate my right hon. Friend on the large increases in funding that are almost as big as some of the funding increases that I received when I was a Health Minister and then Secretary of State. Ever since it was founded, all Governments have increased spending on the NHS—they are bound to—and whichever party is in opposition we always have these knockabout exchanges about whether it is enough. As my right hon. Friend rightly says, what matters is how effectively the money is spent to produce the right patient outcomes. The plan appears to reflect that very well.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the biggest pressure facing the health service is the extraordinary growth in demand, and the change in the nature of that demand, which is being caused by the ageing population, with chronic conditions playing such a large part? Does he also accept that his most urgent priority is to build further links between the hospital service, the GPs, the community services and local authority social services, so that we have people working no longer in silos, but together to produce the best package for the patient? We have achieved something, but not very much. I hope that when we produce our adult social care policy, which I hope is soon, my right hon. Friend will begin to think about some reforms to make sure that all elements of the service work together properly to produce the proper and most cost-effective personalised treatment for each individual patient.