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Funding Settlement for the health service in England

Part of NHS Funding Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:45 pm on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston 2:45 pm, 4th February 2020

My hon. Friend makes a pertinent point. Both my parents are residents of north Wales but on occasion use the Countess of Chester Hospital. This process does not take account of the reality on the ground. As I said before, the fact that there will be Barnett consequentials from the Bill suggests that we have made a serious error in not allowing those from the devolved nations to vote on it.

We know what some trusts have told us about the lack of capital investment and what that means on the frontline: Morecambe Bay has said it has “unsuitable” environments for safe clinical care that have led to the closure of its day case theatre; the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn has warned of a direct risk to life and patient safety from the roof falling in; and at the Royal Derby Hospital, a failing emergency buzzer system in the children’s ward means that staff would be unable to warn colleagues if something went seriously wrong. That is not acceptable.

The capital maintenance backlog will not be addressed unless the Government take note of what NHS Providers says in the report that came out this morning. It talks about the need for the NHS to have a multi-year capital settlement and a commitment from the Government to bringing the NHS capital budget in line with those in comparable economies, which would allow the NHS to pay for essential maintenance work and invest in long-term transformational capital projects of the kind we have touched on. One of our criticisms of the Bill is that capital allocations have not been included in the figures in clause 1, so in order to protect those allocations we have tabled amendment 3, which we hope to push to a vote, to stop the Government’s continual sticking-plaster approach.

I move now to performance targets and our new clause 4. We all know about the record investment and record patient satisfaction levels that the last Labour Government bequeathed to the Conservatives, but another part of their legacy was the NHS constitution, introduced as part of a 10-year plan to provide the highest quality of care and services for patients in England. It included a clear statement of accountability, transparency and responsibility, and standards of care for accessing treatment. These are the figures we often trade across the Dispatch Box.

Only last month, across this very Dispatch Box, the Prime Minister gave us assurances on performance. He said:

“We will get those waiting lists down”—[Official Report, 15 January 2020;
Vol. 669, c. 1015.]

We would all like to see that, but we should remind ourselves of the Government’s sorry record: the target for 95% of patients being seen within four hours in A&E has not been met since July 2015; the target for 92% of people on the waiting list to be waiting fewer than 18 weeks for treatment has not been met since February 2016; the target for 1% of patients waiting for more than six weeks for a diagnostic test has not been met since November 2013; and the NHS has not met the 62-day standard for urgent referrals for suspected cancer treatment since December 2015. I fail to see how the Prime Minister can drive down waiting lists when the level health expenditure he is proposing is not enough to meet existing demand.