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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:42 pm on 16th March 2020.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 3:42 pm, 16th March 2020

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point, which, almost to a degree, goes back to the point made by Louise Haigh about giving people greater clarity and understanding of how things will work and in what way. Because the matters are fast evolving, as he says, they continue to be under review, but we will ensure that we work with industry—including both the example that he gives and others—to give the support that people need and that is most appropriate. Again, I hesitate to say this, but I caution slightly, as I did at the beginning, and say that if he waits until the Secretary of State’s statement, which I think is at half-past five, he may well get more details on that.

Coronavirus is the biggest challenge facing the NHS today. With clean hands and calm heads, we can help tackle it together, but, equally, we will not allow it to divert us from the long-term improvements that patients and staff rightly want to see. As the founders of the NHS knew better than anyone, we can fight the war while also planning for the peace.

Let me now turn to the measures in the Budget that will secure those long-term improvements. Last week, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor committed £6 billion of extra spending to support the NHS over the lifetime of this Parliament. That comes on top of our record long-term NHS funding settlement—£33.9 billion more over five years—which we have now enshrined in law. Most of the extra £6 billion will go towards delivering our flagship manifesto commitments. They include starting work on 40 new hospitals, 50,000 more nurses, and 50 million more appointments in primary care—more buildings, more people and more services. Let me take each in turn.