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I beg to move,
That this House
has considered NHS reorganisation.
It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gapes. It is my pleasure to open this debate on our NHS as we near the end of the year marking its 70th birthday. In debating its reorganisation, we should not lose sight of what a great credit the NHS and its staff are to our country. Its foundation represents arguably the greatest achievement of this House. It is for precisely that reason that its reorganisation matters so greatly.
Let me set the context. Eight years of cuts and the biggest financial squeeze in its history have pushed the NHS to the brink. On all key performance measures, it is struggling to keep up with demand—A&E performance hit a record low this year, more than 4 million people are stuck on a waiting list, and cancer targets are repeatedly missed. In a speech last year, the chief executive of NHS England warned:
“On the current funding outlook, the NHS waiting list will rise to 5 million people by 2021. That is an extra 1 million people on the waiting list. One in 10 of us waiting for an operation. The highest number ever.”
As the NHS is pressurised to do more with less, it is imperative that Parliament properly scrutinises the ongoing process of its reorganisation. We should not allow the Government’s shambolic handling of the Brexit negotiations to distract us from reforms that are critical to the livelihoods of millions in this country.
I acknowledge that this subject is wide-ranging and complex, so I intend to focus on a few key issues: clinical commissioning groups; sustainability and transformation plans and partnerships; integrated care partnerships; health and social care integration; and healthcare infrastructure.
Let me start with the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and CCGs. Six years on from the coalition Government’s top-down reorganisation of the NHS, it is clear that that initiative has been as much of a disaster as Labour warned it would be. My hon. Friend Justin Madders rightly described those reforms as having put in place
“a siloed, market-based approach that created statutory barriers to integration.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 646, c. 176WH.]
The 2012 Act removed regional health planning by abolishing strategic health authorities and creating a complex and fragmented system of clinical commissioning groups. Strategic health authorities helped co-ordinate the provision of healthcare across an area. Subsequent NHS reorganisations have often felt like partial attempts to reverse the damage done by the 2012 Act. It is therefore unsurprising that little effort has been made to keep the public informed of those changes.