Health and Social Care

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:28 pm on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 12:28 pm, 16th January 2020

Yes, I hope that we can make some progress on Royston, because Royston is an example of how the NHS needs to be formulated more in the future. The NHS needs to be both more specific and more local—more specialist and more local—with the high-quality, specialist, cutting-edge technologies in the most specialist of centres, such as the tertiary hospitals of this country. At the same time, it needs to get those services that can be as close to home as possible as close to home as possible, using the best of modern technology to be able to do it. That means that hubs that are somewhere between primary and secondary care are the future, because so often someone can go and have a scan at a hub and the scan can then be interpreted off-site in one of the specialist centres, which means that the patient does not have to travel as far. For instance, especially for an elderly patient, it can be incredibly helpful to be able to go just to the local health hub or walk-in centre to have such a diagnosis.

That is the future of the NHS: more local and more specialist at the same time. It is one of the reasons why I am such a fan of community hospitals, for instance. This is about making sure that we support the NHS where people live, and that we end the generation of putting more and more services into the really big hospitals and sucking them out of local community services. I will end that sucking out of local services, and in fact I will put more into local communities. I have talked about the technology agenda; one thing technology can do is empower the movement of the NHS to local communities. It is incredibly important that we do that.

Let me make some progress, Mr Deputy Speaker, in case you are unhappy with the amount of time I am taking. I mentioned that we will be having 40 new hospitals over the decade, and we will also have—how many more nurses? Fifty thousand more nurses! We will have 6,000 more doctors in primary care, and 50 million more GP appointments. In response to a point raised by the shadow Secretary of State, this Government will deliver on their promises. Given our ageing population, there is record demand on the NHS. I want to thank each and every one of the 1.4 million colleagues who work in the NHS, and the more than 1 million people who work in social care. We must support those people so that our health and care systems are always there for each and every one of us. With this Queen’s Speech, we will do that.

The Queen’s Speech commits us to six major legislative reforms that will help us to set fair the NHS and underpin our priorities across health and social care. The top priority is people. The NHS is nothing without the people who work in it, and as demand increases, we need more people—more GPs, more nurses, more mental health staff, and others—all better trained and better supported by the best technology. They must be better cared for by their employers, and work to the top of their capabilities—that is incredibly important, and we must get the most out of people. For instance, pharmacists can do so much more than the current contract allows, and I want them to do much, much more.