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Comprehensive Spending Review

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

11. When he expects to announce the comprehensive spending review results for the Department of Health. (130449)

As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget speech, the comprehensive spending review will be published in the autumn.

Am I correct in thinking that last week’s Budget made it clear that the Department of Health will be £900 million worse off in the financial year 2006-07 than was predicted by the Treasury at the start of the financial year; that the figures for the NHS announced in the Budget were recycled re-announcements of the figures from the previous comprehensive spending review; and that with the NHS breaking even this year only because of fairly severe cuts in centrally held budgets, the immediate prospects for the finances of the NHS—

No, the hon. Gentleman is not correct about that. My right hon. Friend made it clear in his Budget speech that the NHS in England will receive an increase next year in excess of £8 billion, which is the largest cash increase in the history of the NHS. It will build on the large increases that have led to a transformation in the health service in recent years and to great improvements in the services received by people up and down the country. The hon. Gentleman should, however, be worried about the failure of his hon. Friend on the Front Bench—

Over the past few years, two new health centres, each costing more than £7 million, have been built in my constituency. In June this year, a new district general hospital is to be built at a cost of more than £111 million, with additional doctors and nurses to staff the facilities. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the next comprehensive spending review builds on the success of this one?

I certainly will. I can confirm that there are now 33,000 more doctors and 85,000 more nurses, and that we have undertaken the biggest hospital building programme in the history of the NHS, involving 157 major new hospital schemes since 1997. There are now 80 NHS walk-in centres, compared with none in 1997. We are absolutely determined to build on that further. I know that my hon. Friend will pass on to his constituents the fact that, if the Conservatives were able to—