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Funding Settlement for the health service in England

Part of NHS Funding Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Anne Marie Morris Anne Marie Morris Conservative, Newton Abbot 3:30 pm, 4th February 2020

I rise to speak to new clause 9, tabled in my name and those of Dr Whitford and my hon. Friend Sir Charles Walker. I am pleased that Scotland will have its say, at least with regard to this new clause.

Conceptually, the Bill will absolutely do the right thing, because for long-term decision making we need some clarity as to how much money there will be. As I said on Second Reading, my concern is about whether or not the figures are right, and at that point I proposed a formula that would enable the figures to be flexed to properly determine the need and whether the figure would to be sufficient to meet it.

New clause 9 deals specifically with the issue of mental health. There is agreement among all parties that it is crucial that we get mental health right. It is crucial that it is properly respected and properly resourced. Members from all parties have talked about and supported parity of esteem between physical health and mental health. It might be useful—this is not in the new clause, but we are talking about the issue more broadly—if at some point the Government could give some clarity on, if not a formal definition of, what parity of esteem means.

Parity of esteem is not as simple as how much we spend on physical health and how much we spend on mental health. That is clearly a guide and an easier thing to measure, but it seems to me that if we really mean parity, we should look at not only at the inputs—the money we put into the system—but the outputs. Are we seeing an improvement in access to mental health services? Are we seeing fewer people not being referred with the speed that they and the system expect? What outputs should we look for, and should they not be measured in some way in an annual statement?

New clause 9 would go further than the Opposition amendment, which looks to measure inputs and money, and would require the Government to do something broader and ultimately more meaningful to the British people, whichever quarter of the United Kingdom they come from.