Clause 66 - The NHS payment scheme

Part of Health and Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 23rd September 2021.

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Photo of Karin Smyth Karin Smyth Labour, Bristol South 2:00 pm, 23rd September 2021

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair this afternoon, Mr McCabe. You missed the start of an exciting debate about the NHS payment system; I am sure you are grateful not to miss the end of it.

The complexities of NHS funding are hardly mentioned in the Bill, and some hon. Members may think thank goodness for that, but I urge them to take a bit more account of clause 66—as my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North has said, it is a short one—because we are talking about over £100 billion of taxpayers’ money, rising to 40% of the Government’s annual spend. It is particularly important that we understand how and where that money is spent and to be assured that it is spent effectively and efficiently.

In large part because of the data collection journey that it has been on for some 20 or 30 years, we know that the NHS is the most efficient system we could have, as has been reviewed in numerous reports during that time. We have ways of looking at variations across the country and across a city such as my own, and that can only be a good thing. There are people—I am not suggesting there are any in this Committee Room—who think the NHS is a continuous money pit, is inefficient and could be operated better in another way, and part of understanding that argument is to understand the data and the way in which the money is spent, particularly the costings.

As I said in my earlier intervention on the Minister, about the process that has now been embarked on of producing a payment system, this clause is really important and really quite concerning. We have no idea when this payment system is going to be available.