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NHS Funding Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:20 pm on 27th January 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Conservative, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine 8:20 pm, 27th January 2020

I am perfecting it. I am delighted to be called to speak at this time in this debate on a Bill that demonstrates our commitment to implementing our promise to the British people in the last election to invest in our NHS: to invest a record amount in our NHS. In fact, we are talking about the biggest cash increase in the history of the NHS, delivering new hospitals, more nurses, more doctors, more primary care professionals in general practice and millions more appointments in GP surgeries every year across England; we are demonstrating once and for all that the NHS is safe in the Conservatives’ hands and putting an end, I hope, to the disgraceful, lazy, scaremongering trotted out every election by the parties opposite, which is in place of—in fact, caused by—a dearth of realistic policy proposals that appeal to the British people.

This is a debate about NHS funding. It has been rightly certified as relating exclusively to England, as this matter is fully devolved, and it has focused on the areas— how and where—the extra money will be best spent south of the border. However, it would be remiss of this House to let this Bill pass on Second Reading today without at least mentioning the effect that this transformative amount of money being invested in the NHS, coupled with decisions on funding in education, local government and policing taken by this Conservative Government, will have north of the border in Scotland.

Thanks to this Conservative Government, the block grant to Scotland will increase by an unprecedented £1.1 billion this year, to £29.3 billion, with £635 million of that increase due to our commitment, cemented here today, to boost spending on health to record levels, as it could be transformational. Indeed, it needs to be, for despite the bluff and bluster of the Scottish National party—or, in fact, because of the bluff and bluster of a Scottish National party obsessed with stoking division and grievance, and foisting upon the Scottish people another referendum that they do not want—the health service in Scotland is suffering.

Before I go on, I wish to put on record my thanks to the amazing people who work in NHS Scotland, particularly those at NHS Grampian. They do incredible work, going above and beyond to serve the people of Scotland and north-east Scotland. Their service and sacrifice are something that everybody in this Chamber is grateful for, and I include Dr Whitford in that, not just for her service in Scotland, but her service overseas. My admiration for what she has done in Palestine knows no bounds. However, I do think that health service workers are being let down by the Scottish Government, for whom everything—investment in our NHS, the education of our children and the delivery of policing—plays second fiddle to the obsession of separation from the rest of the United Kingdom.

The story of the SNP’s management of Scotland’s NHS is, sadly, one of underfunding. Spending on the NHS in England increased by 17.6% between 2012-13 and 2017-18, whereas it increased by only 13.1% in Scotland in the same period.