I congratulate Meg Hillier, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, on securing this debate. First, I would point out that a strong NHS requires a strong economy, and on that front the Budget brought good news.
In the short term, we need to think about how to deal with some of the problems we now face. To that extent, I very much welcome the £2 billion for social care, the £300 million to underpin sustainability and transformation plans and the £100 million for A&E. I also welcome the rumours of more medical school places, which, as my hon. Friend Dr Wollaston, the Chairman of the Health Committee, said, are very important indeed.
We need to look at intergenerational fairness. Sadly, most healthcare cost is generated in our declining years. It is reasonable, after 2020, to look at instruments such as the triple lock to see whether those substantial sums of money should be handed to our national health service. Most elderly people I know would welcome such a thing.
We need to look fundamentally at what to do with healthcare funding going forward. It is very good to hear of the injection of money in the Budget, but it will not do in the long term, for reasons that have been explained. A Green Paper will not do either. Although that is welcome for social care, health care is much more complex.
A conversation with the public means looking fundamentally at what underpins our health service and trying to work out why outcomes in this country fall significantly short of those in countries such as Germany, which has been mentioned, France and Holland. That means examining Beveridge versus Bismarck, something in between or something completely different, which requires a commission or a convention—perhaps an Adair Turner-type commission. It needs to have that conversation with the public. On the NHS’s 70th birthday, that is appropriate, because we need to carry the public with us if what we are ultimately suggesting is quite substantial sums of money injected into healthcare to bring our healthcare outcomes to where they should be.
As an optimistic sort of person, I rather suspect that the reason why a Green Paper has not been suggested for healthcare—notwithstanding the “Five Year Forward View”, which is only halfway through its evolution—is that the Government are considering such a conversation as a proposition. I very much hope that the support I think the Prime Minister gave to the concept when a number of our colleagues met a short while ago is translated into concrete proposals in the near future, so that—on a cross-party basis—we can have the convention, commission or conversation that we need with the public to establish, in the NHS’s 70th year, a long-term funding arrangement for this national institution that we all hold so dear.