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I congratulate those Members who have made their maiden speeches today, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) and for Darlington (Peter Gibson), and Neale Hanvey, who all made excellent contributions. I look forward to further contributions from them in the future.
I fully support the Government’s approach to our NHS and to enshrining in law the commitment to this budget. I have a daily reminder of how precious the NHS is, because when I was two weeks old, I nearly died in hospital. I have a scar right across me, which reminds me every day of that time. I had a stomach problem and, ironically, nearly died of malnutrition, but I have made up that for since. Just last week I had another example of how precious the NHS is when one of my little sisters—she is not so little any more; she is in her mid-twenties—gave birth to her first child, my nephew, little Freddie, who is an absolute bundle of joy. The staff at City Hospital in Birmingham did us all proud in helping her to deliver her first child.
It is testament to the professionalism of our NHS staff that they can provide a fantastic service for things such as the birth of a child, which are great news for families, and at the same time offer professional services to people at the saddest time in their family’s life. I am reminded of the NHS staff who supported my mother and my stepfather, Dave, in his final days as he fought his battle with cancer. It is the staff of the NHS who do so much for so many families across the country. I declare an interest in that my stepmom, my sister and a couple of my cousins work in the NHS, from cardiology department to hospital porter, all playing their role in that precious institution that we should protect for many years to come.
It is because of my experiences in the NHS that I passionately believe that the NHS long-term plan should be clinically driven. Professional NHS staff have requested that the Government do certain things, and it is this Conservative Government who are delivering on that, with 40 new hospitals, 50,000 new nurses, 6,000 more doctors, 6,000 more primary care professionals, 50 million more GP appointments and free car parking for those in most need. Those are all things that we are delivering on, and I am proud to say that I am part of helping to deliver them. The NHS budget for last year was £114 billion. By 2024, it will be £148 billion, an increase of 30%. That will secure those excellent services that we are used to for many years to come.
My first official visit this year as a Member of Parliament was to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in my constituency, and it was a pleasure to meet Jo Williams, the chief executive. She enthusiastically showed me a picture on the wall of the improvements that the Royal Orthopaedic had made over the last couple of years. Back in 2014, a chart from the Care Quality Commission report had lots of red and amber categories, but I am pleased to say that only one of the 36 categories is now amber, which is testament to her and her team in that hospital. They made all those improvements and provide an excellent service to the people of south Birmingham.
We must also be mindful, as my hon. Friend Mrs Elphicke so eloquently put it earlier, that the NHS does not always get things right. There are bad apples in every organisation. People can get things wrong, accidents can happen, and systems and processes do not always adapt as quickly as we would like. We must do everything we can as a Government to ensure that things are fixed as quickly as possible when they do go wrong.
I am mindful of health inequality in my Northfield constituency. Although life expectancy has improved over the past couple of years and is above average for Birmingham, it is still below average for the rest of England, and we need to be mindful of that as we go about implementing the long-term plan for the NHS. The three biggest contributions to premature mortality in Northfield are coronary heart disease, lung cancer and alcoholic liver disease, and I am going to be looking further into all three on my constituents’ behalf to ensure that we can further improve life expectancy.
The Prime Minister often rightly says that we need to level up our economy, but we also need to level up health across the country. It is not just the economy that sees huge disparities between the south, the north, and the midlands, because health sees the same. I am confident that this Government, under the leadership of our Prime Minister and the Department of Health and Social Care team, will be doing just that, and I look forward to working with them over the years to come.