I think there is cross-party support in the Chamber for effectively funding our NHS and public health. Both those spending areas will continue to be a priority for the Government.
I particularly welcome the Government’s commitment that primary care and GP services are at the heart of the NHS long-term plan. GPs are very much in the frontline of increasing healthcare needs, and they are feeling the pressure. I want to see the Government’s £4.5 billion commitment to primary care deliver expanded GP capacity in my Chipping Barnet constituency. The proposals for GPs to be able to call on support from teams of other professionals, such as district nurses and pharmacists, may play a helpful role in relieving the pressure on GP services.
If we are to ensure that patients can get appointments when they need them, we need to train and recruit more GPs. This need is even more intense in areas such as Whetstone in my constituency, where new homes are being built and patient rolls are getting longer. I would like to have the Minister’s assurance that the Government’s target to increase medical school places from 6,000 to 7,500 per year will be met. It is also vital to ensure that whatever reforms are introduced to our immigration system when we leave the EU, we ensure that the new system meets the needs of the NHS and ensures it can continue to bring in skilled professionals from the EU and beyond. It is also important to enable doctors to expand their buildings to improve facilities for patients, and I commend the plans to do so that GPs in High Barnet, Whetstone and elsewhere in my constituency are taking forward.
A third aspect of the NHS plan that I would warmly welcome is the improvement of digital capability, in which respect I wish to highlight an important success in my local area. In autumn last year, Chase Farm Hospital reopened in a brand new £200 million state-of-the-art building. It uses the most up-to-date digital facilities, and the new building is significantly improving patient care. It is situated just outside my constituency but used by many of my constituents and is part of the same trust as Barnet Hospital. I campaigned for many years to secure Chase Farm Hospital’s future, and I welcome the great new facilities for my constituents.
I will always be the strongest supporter of the NHS and its values. This debate is an opportunity to celebrate the incredible achievements of our national health service and its staff, but also to recognise that there is a huge amount of work to be done to ensure that the NHS can continue to meet the needs of future populations. We should never ever forget that delivering a strong economy and strong public finances is imperative if we are to continue to have a strong NHS. It is the only way to deliver the funding that the NHS needs to provide the care on which we all depend. A strong economy is vital to ensure that our constituents get the best possible healthcare in the years ahead, and I urge the Government to ensure that they continue to deliver the economic stability and prosperity on which we all depend and on which the NHS depends for a successful future.