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Funding Settlement for the health service in England

Part of NHS Funding Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Jane Hunt Jane Hunt Conservative, Loughborough 5:00 pm, 4th February 2020

I am grateful to my east midlands colleague, my hon. Friend Lee Rowley, for that excellent speech. He made some important points, particularly about outputs, the specific healthcare that is needed and the support required throughout the NHS.

I am grateful for this opportunity to speak to amendments 1, 2 and 3. The funding in the Bill will be administered by NHS England. The Bill guarantees long-term funding to implement the NHS long-term plan. It commits the Government to a £33.9 billion increase for the NHS by 2023-24, bringing the total spend to £148.5 billion. It also provides certainty through a double-lock agreement that places a legal duty on the Secretary of State and the Treasury to uphold this level of funding as a minimum over the next four years.

We are putting our money where our mouth is. Our manifesto clearly stated that

“within the first three months of our new term, we will enshrine in law our fully funded, long-term NHS plan”.

Since our success in December, we have consistently put forward and agreed steps to meet the commitments in our manifesto. We are delivering on the promises that we have made.

One of the most important aspects of the NHS long-term plan is its approach to mental health. It is crucial that people have access to mental health services where and when they need them. I, therefore, welcome the fact that the plan commits to ensuring that mental health receives a growing share of the NHS budget, which will be worth at least a further £2.3 billion a year in real terms by 2023-24. This will enable further service expansion and faster access to community and crisis mental health services for adults and particularly for children and young people.

Given that many people living with mental health issues may need to access health services more often, the NHS long term plan also allows for better and more consistent working between all parts of health care and voluntary elements of the sector. As we have seen in west Leicestershire, for example, primary care networks have formed, grouping GPs and other partners together to the benefit of their patients.

As NHS England sets out, primary care networks build on the core of current primary care services and enable greater provision of proactive, personalised, co-ordinated and more integrated health and social care. Clinicians describe this as a change from reactively providing appointments to proactively caring for the people and the communities that they serve.

Linking this local working together with the benefit and knowledge of vanguard projects from across the country and giving experienced local trust leaders, who have a deep understanding of the physical and mental health needs of their local area, the freedom to make appropriate funding decisions will improve the overall experience of the patient and provide better health and lifestyle outcomes. That is to be welcomed and celebrated, and I ask my fellow colleagues to support the Bill and reject the amendments today.