In advance of the Budget, I spoke in the debate in the House of Commons on Monday (27 February) on
Government spending estimates for health and social care.
Read my speech in full here
I spoke about a number of current problems in the NHS, and the ways in which I believe the Government should be addressing them. The pressures that health services are facing are being exacerbated by the underfunding of health and social care under this Government. Spending on the NHS is currently rising in real terms by an average of 1.75% per year, compared with an average annual increase of 5.7% under the last Labour Government. NHS funding will fall per head of the population in real terms next year.
There are, however, complex problems facing the NHS that aren’t all about the money. As our population ages, the way we organise community and social care services may need rethinking, as at the moment, the problems being experienced there are having a knock-on effect on demand in hospitals. The NHS workforce is struggling, from GPs to nurses to junior doctors, and needs support from the Government. Investment in buildings and equipment is being delayed, when we need to be building a service fit for the future.
We need to be honest about the pressures the NHS is facing and the Government needs to provide direct support to both the NHS and local government in the Budget.
Whilst Ministers may be absorbed by the complex (and arguably harmful) task of trying to disentangle us from the EU, the public will not forgive them if they don't urgently come up with solutions to the growing crisis in health and social care.