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NHS Funding Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:56 pm on 27th January 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 4:56 pm, 27th January 2020

I can guarantee that the mental health funding will be ring-fenced; and I want us, from the House, to pay tribute to the hon. Lady’s mum.

We are going to have more nurses, and I am delighted that we already have a record number of registered nurses, a record number of midwives, a record number of nursing associates and a record number of nurses in training. If the current trends continue, 36,000 nurses will join the NHS each year from the domestic and overseas workforce, which means that we will have more than 140,000 new nurses by 2024. However, we need more nurses now, and we will have 50,000 more by the end of this Parliament. That is a critical manifesto commitment on which we intend to deliver.

We need the right number of nurses and we need them to have the right skills, with nursing increasingly becoming a highly skilled as well as a caring role. From September this year, we will give every student nurse a training grant worth at least £5,000 to support them in their studies and ensure recruitment and retention. We are also expanding the routes into nursing with more nursing associates and nursing apprenticeships, making it easier to climb the ladder to become a fully registered nurse, and prioritising the care of our nursing staff to encourage more of them to stay in the NHS.

Of course, that training grant will also apply to midwives, paramedics, dieticians and all allied health professionals. Too often, the media use “doctors and nurses” as shorthand, and sometimes, if I am honest, we do that in this House, too. We should instead recognise the essential contribution of our allied health professionals, without whom our NHS family is incomplete and on whom our increasing move to multidisciplinary teams depends. This £2 billion training package is in addition to the funding contained in this Bill.

Finally, as well as revenue and training, the NHS also needs more money for infrastructure. On that point, I will give way to Chris Bryant.