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The National Health Service

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:51 pm on 23rd October 2019.

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Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health and Social Care) 5:51 pm, 23rd October 2019

It is a pleasure to follow Mike Hill and I share a number of the assessments that he made in his contribution, because as the House pursues our debate on the Queen’s Speech, it is becoming ever more apparent that the casualty of a Tory Brexit will be Britain’s national health service.

The NHS is our greatest national asset; it is the product of the fusion of radical and enlightened minds in the last century that gave us healthcare for all based on need, not means. But now, in this century, the NHS is in great peril from a toxic combination of chronic underfunding and withdrawal from the EU, and responding to very different challenges from those when it was first created so long ago.

Notwithstanding the announcements in the Queen’s Speech, let us be very clear that the NHS is not in receipt of the resources that it needs to be effective. That was discussed only yesterday at the Health and Social Care Committee, when we had with us the Secretary of State and we talked about the backlog of £6 billion in NHS repairs alone, so an announcement of half that really is no cause for celebration. We heard from the Health Foundation, and its assessment of the Queen’s Speech funding announcement says that

“it falls well short of the scale of the challenge.”

We have a Prime Minister who announced 40 new hospitals, which then was downgraded to six within days, and we see demand for healthcare from our growing and ageing population outstripping the availability and quality of services, which means rationing and a diminution of quality of care; many right hon. and hon. Members from both sides of the House have referred to that in the debate this afternoon.