Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Supporting the NHS and its values, and securing the best healthcare for my constituents, has always been one of my highest priorities as a Member of this place, so I warmly welcomed the news that the NHS would get the biggest increase in funding in its history, with a £20 billion cash boost. As we have heard today, the demands on our health service are increasing as we grow older as a society, and I would like to pay a warm tribute to all NHS staff, especially those working in and around my constituency at the Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals and in primary care. They do incredible work and we all owe them a great debt of gratitude. We need only to consider some of the statistics that the Secretary of State shared with us, such as the fact that the NHS currently sees 3.3 million more people attending at A&E than in 2010. The number of operations carried out is up dramatically, as are the number of diagnostic tests and out-patient appointments. The NHS is delivering more care than at any time in its 71-year history.
There is much that we should praise about the service but, as we have heard today, we should also acknowledge the challenges and the concern felt about waiting times, about access to new and innovative treatments, about caring for our frail elderly, about dealing with health inequalities and about action to improve outcomes for the most serious conditions, such as cancer. That is why the new funding and the new NHS plan are both so crucial. The goals set out in the NHS long-term plan will greatly improve patient care, and they should also boost productivity in the NHS to ensure that taxpayers’ money is used as effectively as possible and gets to the frontline care about which we all care so much. The key challenge now is to ensure that those goals are delivered in practice.