NHS Finances

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:49 am on 14th March 2006.

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Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State (Quality and Patient Safety), Department of Health 10:49 am, 14th March 2006

The hon. Gentleman will have to listen to me for a moment, as I sat and listened quietly. I shall come to Cornwall all too quickly, and he will hear my response.

In September, the hon. Member for Winchester said:

"Some already question the idea that the NHS can provide everything free at the point of delivery. Is it time to start making a charge for some non-essential NHS procedures?"

Liberal Democrat Members should invite their constituents to consider what exactly their party is proposing.

The Labour Government inherited a national health service that was on its knees. In 1997 patients were corralled and managed through a waiting list system that was organised to fit the chronically poor level of resources that the Conservative Government provided. In Cornwall in 1997, in the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, 1,172 patients waited longer than six months for in-patient treatment, including day care surgery. Now, no patients wait for more than six months. That is thanks to the hard work and dedication of the staff at the hospitals, including their managers. As has been acknowledged, it is also partly due to the receipt of record resources as a result of our policy on funding the NHS. Funding has increased, as everybody knows, from £34.7 billion in 1997 to £69.7 billion in 2004–05. By 2007–08, spending on the health service will have increased to more than £92 billion. The Conservative party utterly rejected that policy when we put it forward.

The South West Peninsula strategic health authority has seen year-on-year increases in real terms of more than 6 per cent. In 2005–06, the increase was 6.1 per cent. Next year will see a 6.2 per cent. increase in overall resources, and 2007–08 will see a 7 per cent. increase.