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Healthcare Spending

Volume 607: debated on Tuesday 22 March 2016

9. How much was spent on healthcare as a proportion of GDP in (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2014-15; and what estimate he has made of the amount that will be spent on healthcare as a proportion of GDP in 2020-21. (904258)

Because in 2010 the country faced a deficit that constituted 11% of GDP, all major political parties committed to plans that reduced Government spending, including on health, as a proportion of GDP. However, because of this Government’s commitment to the NHS, health spending as a proportion of Government spending will increase from 14.2% to 15.8% over the decade.

Former coalition Minister David Laws has recently written that under the previous Government the NHS chief executive told Ministers that the health service required an additional £30 billion, and that he was forced to cut that figure and squeeze it down to £15 billion, but was allocated only £8 billion by the Treasury. That was a savage cut of £22 billion to what the NHS really needed. Is that not the root cause of all the NHS’s problems, and does it not make utter nonsense of the Government’s claim to be protecting NHS funding?

What the hon. Gentleman describes as a “savage cut” was a real-terms increase of £10 billion a year, which was £5.5 billion more than his party proposed as part of the platform he stood on at the last election.

16. Does my right hon. Friend agree that as well as focusing on health inputs and how much we spend on the NHS, it is also important that we focus on health outcomes? (904266)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, which is why I am so proud that under this Conservative Government we have put 27 hospitals into special measures, 11 of which have now come out of special measures. We are improving the standard and quality of care, and increasing the number of people being treated across the board. Outputs matters, and that is what this Conservative Government will deliver.

The Health Secretary may talk a good game on funding, but the reality in A&E departments and GP surgeries tells a very different story. The whole system is on its knees, and the revelations of the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury this weekend confirmed what everyone in the NHS already knew—making £22 billion of efficiency savings over the next four years is pure fantasy. In the interests of transparency, therefore, will he now publish the full analysis explaining how NHS England arrived at the figure of £22 billion?

Let us look at what the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, actually said, and not what he is alleged to have done, which he denies. He said that, when it came to the spending review, the Government had listened to and actively supported the NHS’s case for spending and that he could kick-start his plan for the NHS. But it is rather academic—is it not?—because Labour refused to fund his plan at all, which all goes to show, when it comes to the NHS, that Labour writes the speeches but Conservatives write the cheques.

I did not ask the Health Secretary what the chief executive of the NHS said. I asked the right hon. Gentleman to publish the analysis behind the £22 billion figure, but he will not do so because he knows that the only way to achieve these politically motivated efficiencies is by making cuts to staff and pay. The truth is that the NHS survives on the good will of its staff, yet he has pushed that good will to breaking point. How does he expect to improve current services, let alone deliver a seven-day NHS, with fewer staff and a demoralised workforce?

Under this Government, staff levels have actually risen: we have 11,000 more doctors and 12,000 more nurses. If the hon. Lady is worried about NHS funding, perhaps she might look in the mirror, because in 2010 her party wanted to cut funding to the NHS—in Wales, it actually did cut it—and in 2015 it wanted £5.5 billion less than the Conservatives. The NHS does not need Labour rhetoric; it needs more doctors and more nurses, which we can have only on the back of the strong economy that only the Conservatives can deliver.