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NHS Funding

Volume 598: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2015

12. What changes in funding he plans to make to address the NHS funding shortfall forecast in NHS England’s most recent “Five Year Forward View”. (900787)

We have committed to providing additional funding to the NHS of at least £8 billion by 2020-21, over and above inflation. This is in line with the funding identified in the NHS England “Five Year Forward View” and in addition to the £2 billion extra for NHS front-line services this year.

With trust deficits reaching £822 million at the end of the last financial year, commissioners, chief executives and NHS professionals are saying that it is impossible to achieve £22 billion of efficiency savings without cutting services, staff numbers or staff pay or even stripping out the market. Which will the Secretary of State choose?

Of course, it will be very challenging to find those savings, but I gently remind the hon. Lady that Labour’s manifesto at the last election promised £5 billion a year less for the NHS than we promised, and that was because of our confidence in a strong economy, which is what the NHS needs.

The five-year forward plan will need to deal with the outstanding issue of the contaminated blood scandal, as a result of which one of my constituents suffered devastating consequences, including having to take the terrible decision to terminate their unborn child. When might we expect a statement and final resolution on this matter?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue. It was a terrible tragedy—I had constituents who died—and I can confirm that we will be meeting the commitments made by the Prime Minister to bring forward a solution very shortly.

The House will have seen that the pitch is being carefully rolled by the Secretary of State today for future service closures around the country. Last week, a former care Minister was reported as saying that the £22 billion of efficiency savings the Government had signed up to were “virtually impossible” to achieve and that everyone knew it. Given that he is one of the few people to have seen the detail of the efficiency savings, this does not fill anybody with confidence. Will the Secretary of State now commit to publishing the details of the efficiency savings so that Members, the public at large, patient groups and medical professionals can have a proper and open debate about what it means?

We will of course publish how we are going to make these efficiency savings. We have already started with a crackdown on agency spend and a crackdown on consultancy spend, and with the work that Lord Carter, a Labour peer, has done to improve hospital procurement and rostering.

Let me gently say to the hon. Gentleman, however, that he went into the election promising £2.5 billion more for the NHS—£5.5 billion less than we did—and most of that was from the mansion tax that Labour now says was a bad idea. So there would have been nearly £8 billion more of efficiency savings under Labour’s plans than under this Government’s plans, and he should recognise the progress we are making.