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NHS Hospital Projects

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons on 1st October 2019.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee

What progress he has made on the allocation of capital funding for new NHS hospital projects.

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The Government have just announced the largest hospital building programme in a generation, with £2.7 billion of investment in six new large hospitals. I am delighted that one of those is the Princess Alexandra in my right hon. Friend’s constituency, and I pay tribute to him for his years of campaigning for his constituents on this issue.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the hundreds of millions of pounds pledged for a new hospital for Harlow will mean not only that we have a building fit for purpose for the 21st century, but we will continue to attract the best and brightest staff, including through healthcare apprenticeships?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right about that. May I take this opportunity to congratulate all the hard-working staff in his trust for their efforts in campaigning for this. They do a wonderful job serving their community, and I am delighted that with this support they will have the resources they need to keep doing that for years to come.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

This is just a fraction of the hospital building programme that took place under the last Labour Government. Why on earth should anyone believe a single word this Government say, given that they themselves admit that a no-deal Brexit will damage the economy and the public finances? So there will be less money for hospitals and everything else, will there not?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The legacy of the last Labour Government’s hospital building programme is that we are left with £10 billion in private finance initiative payments every year, rather than this being spent on people’s healthcare. This Government are investing in hospital upgrades up and down the country, with 20 announced on the steps of Downing Street, six more announced this past weekend and business plans for another 20 more—and diagnostic equipment. This Government are committing to the NHS, and we will ensure that every patient gets the care and consideration they deserve.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Chair, Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill Committee

I welcome the announcement of the makeover of the out-patient facilities at Heartlands Hospital, which serves some of the most deprived wards in east Birmingham and in my constituency. Does the Minister agree that it is possible to put this additional capital spending into the health service only because a Conservative Government have repaired the nation’s finances?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s comments. She is absolutely right: the only way we get strong public services is with a strong economy, and the only way we get a strong economy is with a Conservative Government.

Several hon. Members:

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (North of England) (Northern Powerhouse)

You are very kind, Mr Speaker. In his announcement this week, the Chancellor chose not to invest a single penny in the Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal, but will he at least end the Treasury’s 3% deficit tax on our local hospitals trust, which has cost £4 million from hospital spending in the past three years? That is money that should have been spent on a new radiotherapy centre for local cancer patients.

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

On cancer treatments, I am delighted that survival rates are at the highest they have ever been. On diagnostic treatments, the recent announcement of £200 million to upgrade diagnostic equipment up and down the country will make an enormous difference to early screening and testing. On funding in general, we are in the first year of a record five-year investment in the NHS—£34 billion more promised by this Government.