NHS funding

I believe fully in the NHS and its values, and I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to a tax-funded NHS, free at the point of use, wherever and whenever you need it. As Ministers plan a new relationship with the EU, I know they will continue to ensure that the NHS is given the priority it deserves. What is clear and obvious to me, however, is that any significant rise in NHS funding must come alongside a rise in income tax for all earners or a rise in the retirement age at which people receive the national pensions. Spending on the NHS consistently rises year-on-year and it is wholly unrealistic for people to demand that this increase is accelerated without some offsetting action rooted in taxation in pensions.
Between 2017 and 2020, the Government will provide the NHS with an additional £2.8 billion resource funding. Last winter, the NHS received £335 million to manage seasonal pressures. £1.6 billion will be invested in 2018-19, and in 2019-20, £900 million will be provided to help address future issues. Furthermore, the Government is currently offering local councils an additional £2 billion to help them fund adult social care services in a time of great pressure.
Moreover, the Chancellor announced an additional programme of capital investment, further to the £425 million committed at the Spring Budget in March 2017. I am happy to say that this investment will be worth £3.5 billion, and will help NHS organisations deliver significant improvements to local services, improve performance, and significantly increase NHS efficiency.
In recognition of the pressures facing social care in local areas, the Chancellor has announced a package of measures in the recent budget which go even further to help the health and care system. Local Authorities in England will receive an additional £2 billion for social care between 2017 and 2020. This will help to ease pressures on the NHS by supporting more people to be discharged from hospital and into care as soon as they are ready. Rising demand for health and social care, and an ageing population means a long term funding solution is required for the NHS; I am happy to say that the Government is looking to establish a sustainable funding model for the NHS which will secure it for the long term, and enable it to meet the growing demand expected in coming decades.

I wholeheartedly support the Government's increase to the NHS budget. However, the NHS is a public service like any other, and local areas must live within their agreed budgets, otherwise they are effectively unfairly depriving other parts of the NHS of much-needed resources. As I understand, the so-called 'capped expenditure process' is part of NHS England and NHS Improvement's financial planning, which examines how a small number of NHS areas could do more to balance their budgets, and remain on a financially sustainable footing for the long run.

On top of this, to secure the best value for taxpayers, tough new financial controls have been introduced to cut down on waste in the NHS, including introducing caps for agency staff and management consultants, and introducing central procurement rules. I am glad to say that the limits on agency spending have saved the NHS roughly £1 billion between 2014 and 2016, and the NHS believes there is still significant progress to be made.

You may be happy to hear that the Commonwealth Fund, a respected healthcare think-tank which works to improve access to healthcare around the world rated the NHS as the best healthcare system in the world, in an authoritative, comparative study of healthcare systems in developed economies. Whilst there is no room for complacency, I am encouraged that the NHS is performing well, despite many years of difficult financial circumstances. I support an ambitious new funding plan to push the NHS forward and retain its recognised position of excellence internationally, however I also recognise the public tax contributions that will have to go alongside this and hope that people are under no illusions about how a national-scale, free system of public healthcare must be funded and sustained.