We know that a strong primary care system is the bedrock of the NHS, which is why I am pleased to announce today that NHS England will publish the new GP contract, agreed by the Government, NHS England and the British Medical Association. It will see almost £240 million extra invested in GP services; require GPs to establish whether overseas visitors are eligible for free care, allowing the NHS to better recoup the costs of that care; and improve access for patients by removing extra funding if GPs regularly close for afternoons during the working week.
With respect to A&Es, diverts have been at twice the level of last year, 4,000 people have had urgent operations cancelled, 18,000 people a week in January were waiting on trolleys in corridors, and nine out of 10 hospitals have been overcrowded and are at unsafe levels. I have even read in the Secretary of State’s local paper that his local hospital had to put patients in the gym overnight. Does the Secretary of State agree with the Prime Minister that the crisis facing our NHS amounts to a “small number of incidents”?
The NHS is under a lot of pressure, but what we never get from the hon. Gentleman is any solutions. Our solution is 600 more A&E consultants since 2010, 1,500 more A&E doctors, 2,000 more paramedics, and 2,500 more people being seen within four hours every day. His solution at the last election was to cut the NHS budget by £1.3 billion.
The Secretary of State’s solution has been to blame everybody else but never take responsibility himself.
What is the Secretary of State going to do about the crisis that we are now facing in staffing? Last week, we learned that half of junior doctors are abandoning specialist training. We have already heard that applications for nursing degrees are down by a quarter following the axing of the student bursary and we heard today that there is a shortage of midwives. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has been in the US and that he will try to give us his alternative facts, but when will he give us an alternative plan and deal with the staffing crisis—an issue that the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr Dunne), could not respond to a few moments ago?
Let us look at the reality, instead of the hon. Gentleman’s rhetoric. In his own local trust in Leicester, there are 246 more nurses than in 2010 and 313 more doctors. Some 185 more patients are being seen in A&E every day and next year a new £43 million emergency floor will open at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. That is because we are backing the NHS instead of wanting to cut its budget.
My hon. Friend is right to say that we now publish one-year survival rates for every CCG in the country, and I agree that that is a beacon of light and a transformative step. It also shows differences of more than 10% between the best and the worst, which is unacceptable. The transparency itself will bring improvement, but we have also recently established 16 cancer alliances, whose sole job is to roll out best practice and investigate and bear down on poor performance.
The current stroke strategy was produced in 2007 and our priority is to implement it fully. Frankly, in my time as a Minister, I would prefer to have detailed implementation plans and not more strategies. My hon. Friend refers to the great differences in performance across the country, in particular in access to speech and language therapy, and we need to achieve better on that.
I pay tribute to the work of the charity the hon. Gentleman mentioned, which does very important work, and have sympathy for the case he mentioned. The UK’s rare diseases strategy has 51 recommendations, which are driving changes through the NHS and improving the life chances of patients with rare diseases. Our genomics work is also bringing life-changing improvements to patients with rare diseases by diagnosing them faster and improving their chances of receiving treatment quicker.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for recognising the work that went into reopening the A&E at Chorley last month. I am delighted, in particular, by the work that was done by the Deputy Speaker and my hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble (Seema Kennedy).
Young people with severe anxiety can spend years out of school and become very isolated. Does the Secretary of State agree that we need to think more imaginatively about community and voluntary solutions to reach out to those young people, whose futures we must not give up on?
I am always somewhat disappointed by the right hon. Gentleman’s rhetoric, given that we are spending about £1 billion more every year than when he was mental health Minister. This April, we will reintroduce maximum waiting times for eating disorders. As he knows, we have committed to publish pathways for all conditions during this Parliament. That will include his constituent who, I agree, is waiting much too long at the moment.
Some GP practices in east Lancashire have, through sheer frustration, started publishing the number of missed appointments. When will the Secretary of State consider giving GPs the power that they want, and that the public want them to have, to charge those who miss repeated GP appointments, including in east Lancashire?
May I gently tell the hon. Lady that I do not think our debates on the NHS are helped by her taking my comments out of context? I was quoting Chris Hopson, from NHS Providers, talking about a specific week when he said there were, in that week, a small number of incidents. We recognise the pressures across the NHS, which is why this Government are backing the NHS with record funding.
My hon. Friend will be aware that best practice for NHS bodies is to pay within 30 days. I am pleased to be able to tell him that figures for the quarter ending in September show that the Department of Health paid 98.4% of our bills within five days—one of the best performances across government.
My constituent, Nicola Johnson, has had primary breast cancer. The secondary was discovered at 10 months. Will the Minister meet me and Nicola, because she falls within the six-month to 12-month period? She is eligible for neither pertuzumab nor trastuzumab emtansine.