Health and Social Care Budgets — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:08 am on 14th March 2017.

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Photo of Peter Heaton-Jones Peter Heaton-Jones Conservative, North Devon 10:08 am, 14th March 2017

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. I congratulate Meg Hillier on securing this important debate. It will not surprise colleagues to hear that I am unashamedly here to speak up for Devon, and North Devon in particular. We are part of the south-west, and it is significant, looking around the Chamber, to see so many Members from the south-west from all sides. It is because we are concerned that rural areas in the south-west are not getting our fair share in the distribution of available funds.

I join my hon. Friend Dr Wollaston in unequivocally welcoming the extra money that the Government have put into health and social care. The £10 billion extra for the NHS over this Parliament and the £2 billion for social care announced in the Budget are extremely welcome, as are the extra revenue-raising powers that have been given to local authorities for social care, and I thank the Minister and his team for those.

However, we need our fair share in areas such as Devon and the south-west. As has been mentioned by Mr Bradshaw, we face a sustainability and transformation plan that is causing huge concern among my residents in North Devon and among those of other colleagues here from Devon constituencies. There are particular concerns about the future of some acute services at North Devon district hospital. I have said before and I will say again that any cuts to services at that hospital would be absolutely unacceptable. That is because of what I describe as the three Ds: distances, demographics and deprivation. I will not rehearse the arguments here; the Minister knows them well. He has been kind enough to hear me out on many occasions, as have the Secretary of State and many others. Those three factors in Devon and in North Devon in particular mean that we have to look at a fairer way of funding our health service so that we get the services we need. I repeat that any cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital would be absolutely unacceptable.

The holy grail of social care is the integration of the health and social care systems, which many colleagues have mentioned. I want to pay tribute to the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, which does better than most in working with its social care partners to ensure that packages of care are in place when people are able to move out of hospital. I welcome the hard work of all the people who work in the North Devon services to achieve that.