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Health Infrastructure Plan

Volume 664: debated on Monday 30 September 2019

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I wish to make a statement on the health infrastructure plan announcement.

Our health is the nation’s biggest asset, and the NHS is the Government’s top domestic priority. We are backing our commitment to our NHS with record levels of funding. As part of this, today I am pleased to update the House on the biggest, boldest hospital-building programme in a generation. Through our new health infra- structure plan we are supporting more than 40 hospital- building projects across the country, with six getting the go-ahead immediately—HIP 1. That includes £2.7 billion of investment that gives those six hospitals the funding to press ahead with their plans now, alongside last Friday’s investment in technology to ensure that no CT scanner is more than 10 years old.

The six hospital trusts are Barts Health NHS Trust, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Under HIP 2, a further 21 schemes have been given the go-ahead with £100 million seed funding to go to the next stage of developing their plans, subject to business case development. This £2.8 billion capital investment follows on from August’s £850 million for new upgrades, which included, for example, a £72.3 million investment in the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. All of this, of course, comes on top of the £33.9 billion cash increase in funding for the day-to-day running of our NHS.

This announcement represents another part of our long-term, strategic investment in the future of the NHS, properly funded and properly planned, to ensure our world-class healthcare staff have world-class facilities to deliver cutting-edge care and to meet the changing needs and rising demand that the NHS will face in the 2020s and beyond. Capital spend on NHS infrastructure is fundamental to high-quality patient care, from well-designed facilities that promote quicker recovery to staff being better able to care for patients using the equipment and technology that they need. It is also essential to the long-term sustainability of the NHS’s ability to meet healthcare need, unlocking efficiencies and helping to manage demand. The investment we are making in our buildings, our technology and our equipment is vitally important in itself, but it is most important because it gives our fantastic NHS staff the tools they need to do the job.

Our staff are at the heart of the NHS, which is why we have invested in the NHS’s workforce. Our interim NHS people plan has set out immediate actions that we will take to reduce vacancies and secure the staff we need for the future—including addressing pensions tax concerns, increasing university clinical placements by over 5,000 more and bolstering the workforce. But it is only right that we invest in the buildings they work in, and in which they provide first-class care for patients. For too long, Governments of all parties have taken a piecemeal and unco-ordinated approach to NHS buildings and infrastructure.

The health infrastructure plan will change that. In the future, every new hospital built or upgraded must deliver our priorities for the NHS, and happen on time and in a planned way, not the current stop-start that we see.

But NHS infrastructure is more than just large hospitals. Pivotal to the delivery of more personalised, preventive healthcare in the NHS long-term plan is more community and primary care away from hospitals. That requires investment in the right buildings and facilities across the board, where staff can utilise technology such as genomics and artificial intelligence to deliver better care and empower people better to manage their own health.

This is only the beginning. The full shape of the investment programme, including wider NHS infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and wider capital investments that support the economy and health system will be confirmed when the Department receives a multi-year capital settlement at the next capital review.

This is a long-term, strategic investment in the future of our NHS, properly funded and properly planned, to ensure that our world-class healthcare staff have world-class facilities to deliver care and meet changing needs and rising demand, so that the NHS can face the 2020s and beyond with confidence.

I welcome the Minister to his place and thank him for advance sight of his statement. I know him to be a decent man—we have worked together on many joint Leicester and Leicestershire campaigns—and I consider him a friend, but I am afraid that we have to hold him and his Government robustly to account. What was announced yesterday was not in fact 40 guaranteed new hospitals but six hospital reconfigurations. It was also not the biggest hospital rebuilding programme in history, because that happened under the last Labour Government.

Of course, I welcome investment in Leicester Royal Infirmary—it is a big investment and to have won it shows what an effective Member of Parliament I am—but will the Minister be clear that that also means a downgrade of Leicester General Hospital, with services closing, including maternity services, and a loss of beds? Will he also tell us what happened with the Epsom and St Helier reconfiguration? Will he confirm that that means moving from two acute services to one in a part of London where accident and emergency pressures are increasing? Will he tell us today whether, across these reconfigurations, the end result will be more beds or fewer?

We know that the NHS is facing a repair bill of £6 billion after years of capital cuts under this Conservative Government, but the Government have so far refused to publish the capital allowances for between next year and 2025. Will the Minister guarantee that the £2.7 billion allocated will be additional to the capital baseline, and will he undertake to publish the NHS departmental expenditure limits on capital spending so that we can be reassured, rather than our assuming that this is all smoke and mirrors?

The Minister has also invited 21 other trusts to make use of a £100 million fund to prepare plans for future upgrades, yet he has just admitted that that will be subject to “business case review”. Is not the truth that the Minister and the Secretary of State cannot give any cast-iron guarantee that each and every one of these hospitals will be upgraded between 2025 and 2030, because not a penny piece of extra investment has been allocated to the programme for 2025 to 2030?

Finally, how were the 21 trusts chosen? In our mental health hospitals, 1,000 patients are forced to stay in quite dire old-style dormitory wards—the Minister might have seen the ones at the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, for example—yet not a single mental health trust is on the list of 21 produced yesterday. Does that not show yet again that this Government neglect mental health services and some of the most vulnerable patients in the land?

What is on this list, Mr Speaker? I will tell you. We have: Hastings and Eastbourne—marginal constituencies; Winchester—a marginal constituency; Plymouth—a marginal constituency; Reading—a marginal constituency; Truro—a marginal constituency; Torbay—a marginal constituency; Barrow—a marginal constituency; and Uxbridge—a marginal constituency. What a spooky coincidence it is that all these marginal constituencies are on the list. This is not a serious plan. It is a wing and a prayer ahead of a general election. The Prime Minister over-spins, under-delivers and is not straight with people—the truth is that you cannot trust the Tories with the NHS.

I will at least start by expressing gratitude to the hon. Gentleman for his kind words at the beginning of his remarks. As he says, we work closely together in our city and county, although I suspect that that spirit of co-operation might not extend across these Dispatch Boxes. None the less, it is a pleasure to stand opposite him. Although I would not agree with his characterisation of where the money has gone, is he, on the basis of that characterisation, suggesting that his own seat is a marginal constituency?

I find it extraordinary that the shadow Secretary of State takes opposition to a new level by opposing investment in our NHS, trying to cavil and challenge it. He will forgive me if I do not take his specific questions in the same order as he asked them, but I will run through as many of them as I can recall or as I noted down.

On mental health, I have to say that I find it very difficult to take lessons from the hon. Gentleman when this Government have invested huge additional sums in mental health care. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, we have allocated capital for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust—the announcement was made earlier this summer—and for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, so I think the hon. Gentleman is perhaps being a little unfair in suggesting there is no investment in mental health from this Government.

This is an ambitious programme, but unlike the last Labour Government, we will not leave hospitals saddled with masses of private finance initiative debt. That programme was massively expanded under the Labour Government he served as a special adviser. Perhaps he should welcome this Government’s approach, which is to give hospitals the funding they need to deliver without saddling them with debt.

We have made it clear that the hospitals named in HIP 1 have the funding to go ahead, including the hospitals that serve his constituency and mine. I am a little surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman challenge the notion that anyone bidding for huge sums of public money should have to go through a business case. Surely when we are spending public money, it is reasonable of us to make sure it delivers value for money and better outcomes for patients. I know the Labour party does not pay much attention to value for money, but my party and this Government do. We are focused on patient outcomes and delivering investment in our NHS. We can say proudly that, with this raft of announcements, the extra £33 billion and the announcements made already, we truly are the party of the NHS.

I very much welcome the allocation of £450 million to Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. We are keen to work with the Department. Local NHS leaders are eager to work on producing a good business plan that meets the needs of patients and staff in Cornwall. When will the seed funding enabling them to develop those plans be available? If all goes as well, as I am sure it will, we will be able to start building those new facilities in 2025.

I know that my hon. Friend’s local hospital trust and her constituents have no greater champion in this place than her. She is right to highlight the allocation to Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. The seed funding was announced yesterday and is there now, so we hope that the trust will get to work using that money to develop plans to improve services at local hospitals.

I am grateful to the Minister for advance sight of his statement.

UK Government decisions on pension costs and funding already result in a shortfall of £48.4 million for the NHS in Scotland, which comes on top of the UK Government making wider budget reductions in health funding for Scotland of £42 million compared with their previously claimed level of consequentials. Scotland now faces a shortfall of £90 million for its health services as a result of UK Government decisions. Now that the UK Government have apparently opened the spending taps, will they pay back the moneys due to Scotland, or will we continue to be short-changed? When will the full Barnett consequentials of this new investment be published?

In total, the Tories’ decade of austerity has cumulatively cut the Scottish block grant by more than £12 billion in real terms. With the economy already faltering, the Chancellor’s predecessor warned that a destructive no-deal Brexit could inflict a £90 billion hit on the Exchequer and suggested that no new money would be available. How then can the Minister guarantee that this money will come to the NHS?

I will not stray into the politics of the NHS in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman asks specifically about Barnett consequentials. I can confirm that they will apply, and if it would be helpful I will write to him with details.

As my hon. Friend might guess, I am delighted by the announcement about Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, which will find favour with hon. Members on both sides of the House. We have been talking about it for a long time, and this is the first genuine movement.

I have a tiny, slightly off-the-wall additional request. As my hon. Friend is aware, I have a declared interest in dentistry, which means that every time the word “health” comes up, I get prodded in the back by my colleagues. In most western nations, 60%, 70% or 80% of the public water supply is fluoridated. It is a proven caries prevention. Would he include in his plans the infrastructure to greatly expand the fluoridation of our water supply? It would bring benefits in terms of prevention and, in due course, cost.

As he said, my hon. Friend showed some dexterity in asking that question, but I am happy to reassure him. The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill), is looking at this matter, and I am sure that she will be happy to discuss it with him further.

I would always welcome more money for our NHS, but as always the devil is in the detail. The “Shaping a healthier future” programme proposed the closure of four A&Es in north-west London, at a cost of £76 million, but just six months ago the Health Secretary stood at that Dispatch Box to declare the scheme scrapped. The author of that scheme, Daniel Elkeles, is now the chief executive at St Helier, where he is plotting to use these latest funds to reduce two A&Es to one—away from those most in need—which would place intolerable pressure on nearby St George’s. Does the Minister not see a pattern here?

I always think it a little unfair in this House to name or attack individuals where they do not have the ability to answer back. The Government have made it clear that the announcement today and yesterday is about putting more money into our NHS, which will improve services for the hon. Lady’s constituents and for those across the capital and indeed the country.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust faces some particular challenges in delivering across two district hospitals and the community hospital to a relatively small population but one that has a big and complicated geography. Goole Hospital, for example, is still operating on a coal-fired boiler. I will write to the Minister following this, of course, but can he look at the particular requests we have with regard to the backlog of works at the trust?

My hon. Friend is quite right to highlight that in certain parts of the country, including his constituency, geography can present a challenge for the delivery of services. I look forward to his letter and will be very happy to respond and to look into the matter with him.

With a £1.3 billion maintenance backlog, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which includes St Mary’s, which serves my constituency, faces the largest challenges in the country and has been waiting for years for the approval to go ahead with the St Mary’s development. In recent years, we have seen the Grafton ward closed because of significant structural concerns, with the loss of 32 beds; a ceiling collapse in Thistlewayte ward; the Paterson centre flooded; and floods, electrical issues and drainage issues commonplace across the whole estate. Can the Minister guarantee me that today’s announcement will mean no repeat of these sorts of problems in St Mary’s in the coming months, and how does he feel it will be better served by the £200 million deficit the trust has and the £120 million deficit in our local clinical commissioning groups?

As the hon. Lady will recall, many years ago, when I had more hair and it was not so grey, I sat on Westminster City Council, and St Mary’s was an issue back then that we discussed on various occasions. She is right to highlight it, but I would have expected her to very much welcome the inclusion of Imperial and St Mary’s in the announcement of seed funding to develop their proposals and get the investment they need.

We are rather pleased in Winchester at today’s announcement and with our place within it. My constituents do not care about the political knockabout in this House. They love their hospital and are really pleased that it is going to be invested in. Will the Minister confirm how the seed funding process will work in the immediate term—we are in wave 2, but we are keen to get cracking so that we are ready—and will he also confirm that this is a huge vote of confidence in the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, not just from the Government, but from the NHS as well?

I know that, since my hon. Friend was first elected to this House, he has made health and the NHS his No. 1 priority. He served with distinction as a Minister in the Department and continues to champion his constituents’ interests in this respect. On the seed funding, we have made the announcement and are keen to get the money to those trusts as swiftly as possible so they can work with us to develop their plans. I agree entirely that its inclusion in this list is a vote of confidence from us and the NHS in the work his local hospital is doing.

I thank the Minister for his statement. He said that the Government would focus on outcomes, and he mentioned £200 million for new CT scanners for diagnosis, but The Times recently published the details of answers to freedom of information requests indicating that half of NHS trusts are treating cancer patients with out-of-date radiotherapy machines. The UK will remain at the bottom of the cancer survival league until we dramatically improve our radiotherapy services, so what steps is he taking to implement the “Manifesto For Radiotherapy”, invest in modern radiotherapy equipment and train personnel in IT networks, to provide modern radiotherapy services to cancer patients in every region of the UK, not just those in London and the south-east?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that question and for the tone in which he asks it; it is an extremely important point and he makes it well. The investment in CT scanners and X-ray machines is an important start. It means that none of them will be over 10 years old, which is hugely important. He is absolutely right to talk about treatment, the workforce and the many parts of the system that provide effective cancer care. Although it is a specialist hospital, I recently visited the Royal Marsden Hospital in London to see the amazing research and work being done there. He is absolutely right that we must continue to promote that specialism and expertise right across the country to ensure that everyone gets the diagnosis, treatment and cancer care that they deserve. I would be happy to meet him subsequently to discuss the manifesto he highlighted.

I welcome this fantastic announcement. Our fantastic NHS staff are expected to deliver modern NHS services in buildings that were designed for a completely different era. Therefore, when considering the proposals that will come forward from Cornwall, will he pay particular attention to those that involve modern technology, so that people do not have to travel to the centre to receive diagnosis and treatment?

My hon. Friend makes a good point. Local NHS trusts will be developing their plans and proposals on how they wish to see services modernised, but he is absolutely right and I am sure that they will have heard him, just as I have.

In 2003, the Labour Government opened Hull’s women and children’s hospital, which is where I had the “pleasure” of giving birth to my two children. However, the main Hull Royal Infirmary site is a 50-year-old tower block that is in need of serious investment, so it is a shame that the Government have not even attempted to match the previous Labour Government’s NHS investment in Hull. Can the Minister at least explain how he will fund the existing maintenance backlog?

The hon. Lady makes a good point. This Government will invest in our NHS without leaving it saddled with private finance initiative debt for many decades to come. However, she is absolutely right to highlight the need to manage a backlog of works, because many of the buildings are old and not entirely fit for purpose. This announcement represents a huge step forward in that, alongside the work that has already been set in train through the Naylor review of the management of NHS capital and property maintenance. I believe that we are making significant strides forward in that. If she wished to write to me about the specific issues with her hospital trust, I would be happy to respond to her on those as well.

I, alongside my wonderful right hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Dame Eleanor Laing) and my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr Prisk), have been campaigning hard for a new hospital in Harlow, and we are delighted by the Minister’s announcement that we will now be getting it. Will he send us the full details about the process? We are delighted that we are in the first wave of six. I ask him not only to visit the hospital, but to pay special tribute to the incredible domestic and support staff, the nurses, doctors and consultants, and the management team, led by the chief executive Lance McCarthy, because for years they have done an incredible job, against the odds, in a building that was not fit for purpose. Will he pay tribute to those wonderful NHS staff?

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who is right to highlight the work for his local hospital by our hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr Prisk) and by the right hon. Member for Epping Forest (Dame Eleanor Laing) who, given the nature of her office, may not speak but works incredibly hard for her constituents on this. My right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) has a strong track record of campaigning successfully on a range of issues, so I suppose he will be pleased that yet again he has secured a victory for his constituents and his area. I join him in paying tribute to Lance McCarthy and the entire team at the hospital and the trust.

Every day, our NHS staff go above and beyond everyone’s expectations in whatever buildings, to make sure that they deliver first-class care for all our constituents and, indeed, for us all. I will happily write to my right hon. Friend setting out the process in more detail. I believe that my predecessor in this role was due to visit on the day on which he was reshuffled, so I very much look forward to taking up that invitation if it is extended and coming to see my right hon. Friend.

It is said in the House that the vote follows the voice. On NHS infrastructure, it seems that the cash follows the camera. On that basis, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to pop round to Ealing Hospital, where he will be welcome? In his statement, he referred to staffing as well as infrastructure, so is he prepared to be asked about the current situation on nursing bursaries? Would he care to share his thoughts with the House?

It was one of his better ones. I will happily take up the hon. Gentleman’s invitation to visit his local hospital, which, as I recall, he told me was opened by Lord Patrick Jenkin. I am always happy to visit hospitals with colleagues, and when I do so I am always happy to talk to any staff members who want to talk to me about anything that is of concern to them. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to highlight the importance of adequate supplies of nurses for our NHS, both in the recruitment and training of new nurses. We also need to focus to returnees, whatever the reason they left the profession, and tempt them back. He is absolutely right, and I look forward to seeing him in his hospital.

I thank the Minister and the Health Secretary for the announcement that North Devon is one of the areas that will benefit from investment. I thank the Minister and his predecessors for listening to all the lobbying and campaigning, which proves the truth, Mr Speaker, of your oft-repeated mantra that persistence pays. Will he accept an invitation to come and visit North Devon with me, to work with the trust to get these plans going, particularly in a place such as North Devon, to ensure that we can deliver these services sustainably, including to areas that are more rural and isolated?

My hon. Friend is right that persistence does pay off, and it certainly has done so in his case on behalf of his constituents. He is right to highlight the importance of the sustainability of services, which is what we are seeking to do with the investment, and also ensuring that services are designed to reflect the geography and needs of the local population, to ensure that they have access to the healthcare that they need when they need it. He kindly invited me to visit. I suspect that it is a little easier to visit Ealing than Devon, but I shall endeavour to do so.

Order. The words “cheeky chappy” could have been invented to describe the hon. Gentleman, and I am sure that that is something in which he takes great pride, among many other things.

As a Mancunian MP, I am absolutely sickened to see Members on the Government Benches today. If you will forgive the personal pronoun, you should be in Manchester spending your hard-earned wages on our economy. [Interruption.] I was just trying to take the toxicity out of the place.

The NHS is a devolved matter in Greater Manchester, but NHS financial technicalities are holding back the redevelopment of the wonderful Wythenshawe Hospital in my constituency. Will the Minister meet me to discuss those technicalities?

If it is any reassurance to the hon. Gentleman, I can say that I was enjoying Manchester yesterday and this morning, and then came down here to enjoy being at the Dispatch Box. Let me also say that if he wanted to see fewer of us here and rather more in Manchester, perhaps he should have voted in favour of a small recess to allow us to go and support the economy of his city. As for his question about the hospital trust, of course I should be very happy to meet him.

We had some bad news in Banbury last week about our obstetric unit, but partly as a consequence, two positive steps have been taken. I have met the Secretary of State twice in the past week, and I have managed to get the clinical commissioning group and the head of the trust on the same page, and we were able to apply for some seed funding. Can the Minister assure me that he will look on that application favourably and that we will make Horton General Hospital fit for the future?

I know the Horton well from my time as the parliamentary candidate for Oxford East, which I fought in 2010 and which, sadly, fought back. I also know of the work that my hon. Friend has done since before her time in the House in campaigning in the hospital’s interests. I will certainly look carefully at any application that is made, and I will judge it swiftly and fairly, as will the Secretary of State.

I warmly welcome the investment in Whipps Cross University Hospital, which is one of the six projects that have actually been committed to, as opposed to the 40-odd that have been promised. However, as the Prime Minister found during his recent visit to the hospital, when he met my constituent Omar Salem, all is not well in respect of the consistency of the care provided there—not because of a lack of dedication on the part of the staff, but because the hospital and, indeed, the wider Barts Health NHS Trust do not receive the funding that they need to cater for such a large population across the whole of east London. I welcome the investment in the fabric of the hospital, but what will the Minister do to ensure that my constituents receive a consistently excellent quality of care when they visit the hospital?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman both for his question and for the reasonable tone in which he pitched it. [Interruption.] Indeed, he is always reasonable. As he knows, the capital investment will allow for investment in a new hospital, providing a range of services across emergency, maternity and specific out-patient and other diagnostic services. As for consistency of care and the experience of patients, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to pay tribute to the fantastic work done day in, day out by the NHS workforce, and that is why we have seen that workforce grow under this Government. Equally, however, when I visit hospitals, as I have done since I was appointed, I observe that the infrastructure and the buildings in which they operate can play a huge part in delivering not only consistency of care, but speed of care and speed of access. That capital investment in the hon. Gentleman’s local hospital will play a huge part in giving its excellent staff the tools with which to do their job and the environment in which to do it, and he will see that delivering better and more consistent care to patients.

During the summer, we welcomed the £30.6 million investment in a new urgent care centre at Stepping Hill Hospital. Does the Minister agree, however, that support will be needed for infrastructure, particularly for adequate car parking? That is a big issue for local residents, who regularly experience problems parking.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Capital improvements in hospitals are hugely important, but it is also important for them to be set within the broader context of car parking and other facilities to ensure that those hospitals can run smoothly.

Now that the Government are no longer using the private finance initiative, what are the terms and conditions for Treasury funding of capital investment in hospitals? Is this all grant, or is it a new kind of loan?

The right hon. Gentleman will know from his time in government that the approvals process conducted by the Treasury and, indeed, the NHS is not always the simplest. We are looking into what we can do to ensure that it is better streamlined, while also delivering value for money for taxpayers and the assurance that is required. However, it is important that this money—while not tied to the same conditions as the ruinous PFI deals entered into by the previous Labour Government—does deliver value, and we know that it is delivering on outcomes for patients.

I thank the Minister for the decision, principally in listening to the outstanding campaign led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon), which will benefit east Herts, Harlow and, indeed, the Epping Forest area. May I also say that the Minister need not be defensive, because we have not forgotten that when Labour was in government, it chose not to build a new hospital in our area but to scrap those proposals? We need take no lessons from the Opposition.

I am pleased that two of the trio who have fought so hard for my hon. Friend’s local hospitals and services have had the opportunity to contribute. He is absolutely right to say that while the Labour party talks the talk, when we look at its track record in government, we see that all too often it absolutely failed to deliver by scrapping services or saddling trusts with debt.

The finances at King’s College Hospital were destabilised in 2011, when the Lib Dem-Tory coalition forced King’s to take on two additional hospitals following the failure of another hospital trust. King’s is now struggling with the greatest financial challenge of any hospital trust in the UK. It is desperately in need of capital investment to enable it to meet local needs. Will the Minister explain to this House and, more importantly, to the hard-working staff at King’s—whose life-saving and life-enhancing work every single day is so important in our area and across London, where their work was critical in responding to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and to the Westminster bridge and London bridge terror attacks—why there is not a single penny for King’s College Hospital in today’s announcement?

While I recognise and pay tribute to the hon. Lady for her championing, as one would expect, of her constituents and local hospital, I am sure she will none the less welcome this Government’s massive investment in our NHS. I hear what she says about her own local hospital, and she is right to highlight the work done by the staff, who do amazing work day in, day out, particularly in the aftermath of some incredibly challenging disasters. I would be very happy to meet and talk to her in more detail about the finances of her hospital and trust since 2011, if she feels that would be useful.

I welcome my hon. Friend to his role and wish him every success. I also welcome this Government’s continuing investment in the NHS, particularly that in the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust. Does he agree that it will provide high-quality A&E services for my residents, maintain key services at the St Helier site and confound those naysayers who said that this Government were going to shut that hospital?

My hon. Friend was a distinguished predecessor of mine in this post. He is very much missed by the Department and, I am sure, by all those working in the NHS who came into contact with him. He rightly highlights the positive news in this announcement, including for his hospital trust. This money will allow it to invest and for the hospitals to continue providing first-class services to his constituents.

The £100 million seed funding needs to be put in context, which for Oldham is a £95 million capital requirement just for basic maintenance and upgrading, so it is not really a significant investment at all. More importantly, I am here to call and collect. Two years ago, the Government promised £80 million for Greater Manchester as part of the Healthier Together proposals, but they still have not written the cheque. So, fewer announcements, more cash, please.

The hon. Gentleman makes his point forcefully but courteously. I will take away what he said and I will write to him.

May I welcome my hon. Friend’s announcement that the Government are backing Basingstoke’s plan for a new hospital to serve not just north Hampshire but across mid-Hampshire? It has the support of our local council and local residents. However, the 1970s buildings in which my incredible doctors and nurses and chief executive Alex Whitfield work are already creaking at the seams and are very expensive to maintain. What can my hon. Friend do to support the hospital’s bid and to ensure that a new hospital is in place as swiftly as possible, so that the money is not patching up the old but building the new?

My right hon. Friend makes an important point. This money will be hugely important to doing exactly what she says: investing in our NHS buildings for the long term, so reducing the reliance on expensive capital repairs.

With this plan, we are also looking to deliver a step change in how we deal with capital in the NHS, which is also hugely important. Instead of stop-start investment, we are looking for a rolling programme of investment to make sure we get those facilities up to standard in order to reduce the day-to-day spend on repairs. I will happily talk to my right hon. Friend about what we can do to ensure that we go through due process as swiftly as possible so that her hospital trust can get on with it.

I worked on many business cases for capital projects during my long NHS career. These projects are important to local people, but local people across the country were misled over the weekend. This is a proposal to give permission to think about building a hospital; they are not new hospitals. The Government’s own response to the Naylor report said that sustainability and transformation partnerships are the chosen means of planning and delivering capital projects, so how were STPs consulted about which projects to progress?

The hon. Lady, as she says, comes to this with a wealth of experience. The bids were put forward by individual trusts working with their STPs, and in the context of the STPs that have been developed. There is a synthesis and a read across to ensure that, in this announcement, we have picked the trusts that put together the most compelling bids in order to deliver value for money and improvements where they are needed.

I welcome my hon. Friend to his new post and, of course, I welcome the investment he has announced, but he will recognise that, however new the hospital, being an in-patient can be a profoundly distressing experience for someone with dementia. Good design can help tremendously, so will he do all he can to ensure that the best possible design standards are used when building these hospitals, with the interests of people with dementia in mind?

My right hon. and learned Friend makes an important point that is close to my heart, as a former co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on dementia. I recently, or relatively recently, had the opportunity to visit Leicester Royal Infirmary, which has done exactly that and worked with the Alzheimer’s Society and others to create a dementia-friendly ward. He is right that that sort of thing should be hardwired into our designs as we upgrade hospitals.

Had the Minister conducted an appraisal of the full NHS estate, he would have realised that mental health hospitals are not on his list. In the light of the urgent need for a new child and adolescent mental health services unit in York, how did he miss CAMHS from his list? This will have a real impact on clinical services.

The hon. Lady makes an important point about mental health and the services for those with mental health needs. This announcement is very much focused on acute hospitals, and investment was recently announced for mental health services in, for example, Mersey Care and Manchester. Indeed, my own county recently invested in a new unit.

The hon. Lady raises a specific point, and it would be wrong to suggest that this Government are not investing in mental health services. However, if she wishes to discuss the specifics of her constituency and of the needs in Yorkshire, I would be happy to meet her.

I wholeheartedly and unreservedly welcome the massive £450 million investment in the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. It is every penny that management and clinicians said they need to ensure that we have world-class healthcare facilities for the people of Leicester and Leicestershire. Will my hon. Friend join me in welcoming the fact that this Government abandoned the discredited Labour funding mechanism of PFI? PFI stood for “private finance initiative,” but it should have stood for “pay for indefinitely”.

My hon. Friend and constituency neighbour makes a positive point, perhaps in contrast with some of the points made by Opposition Members, in welcoming the huge investment that we will see in the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. Although the hospitals are in the constituency of the shadow Secretary of State, the work to campaign for this money has been a team effort, across all parties and all constituencies, and I pay tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for South Leicestershire (Alberto Costa) and for Harborough (Neil O'Brien) in that context. My hon. Friend the Member for North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen) is right to highlight PFI again. It was massively expanded under the previous Labour Government, who ran it so badly that it left trusts saddled with debt.

On Friday, I had a meeting with Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, whose chief executive said to me:

“The impact of low levels of funding over seven years has been longer and more impactful than when funding was squeezed by the Mrs Thatcher Government. More investment is required to increase staff training and in turn employ more qualified health staff.”

We know that hospitals in towns are often not funded to the same level as hospitals in cities, so could the Minister give me the number of hospitals in towns that are not in marginal seats which are having extra hospitals and funding? Will he meet me to discuss extra funding for Dewsbury’s hospital?

The hon. Lady makes a powerful point. I am sure she would therefore welcome what we are doing, which is addressing capital funding needs with a long-term, rolling programme of capital investment to address both the immediate need and the shortfalls from the previous Labour Government’s landing trusts with PFI debt. On her local hospital, and the need to invest in cottage hospitals, community hospitals and town hospitals, I will of course meet her.

I realised from the earlier exchanges how lucky I was, because my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) did visit my local hospital, Leek Moorlands Hospital, but please do not let that stop the incumbent from adding it to his address book, because he would be very welcome any time he feels like a visit to north Staffordshire. Can the Minister confirm that this investment is possible because of this Government’s careful stewardship of the economy and that these hospitals will not be saddled with debt, as the ones built on PFI were?

My right hon. Friend is right. In my previous role, I enjoyed a visit to her constituency to visit a prison with her and I am more than happy, although I am sure my officials will wince at the diary management involved, to take her up on her offer of a visit as well. She is exactly right: we are able to make this investment because, unlike the previous Labour Government, who left that note saying, “Sorry, there is no money”, we have stewarded the national finances well and we now have the money to invest.

There was nothing in the announcement about Southport and Formby District General Hospital, which desperately needs a new walk-in centre to relieve the pressure on the accident and emergency department, and nothing about the much-needed health centres in Maghull and Formby, also in my constituency. Given the cancellation and delay in previous projects, and the growing repairs backlog, why should anyone think that these projects will go ahead in the way the Minister has announced any more than previous projects that have not?

The hon. Gentleman is understandably and rightly fighting the corner for his local trust and local hospitals, but I am sure he would none the less welcome the huge investment by this Government in our NHS that this announcement amounts to. On delivering on these commitments, we are clear: we want to see these hospitals built as swiftly as possible. Unlike the Labour party, when we say we will do it, we get on with doing it.

As the Minister knows, in his short time in office I have been pinging his ear, as I did his predecessor’s, over the investment we need in west Hertfordshire. The Secretary of State kindly took a call from me at the weekend. Now £400 million is welcome, but not if we are going to chuck it into Watford Hospital, which is a Victorian hospital that took all the work from Hemel Hempstead Hospital when Labour closed our acute hospital. Hemel Hempstead is the largest town in Hertfordshire. We welcome the money, but we would like a new hospital where we could look after St Albans, Hitchin and Harpenden, Watford and Hemel Hempstead in the 21st century—we do not want to plough this into a Victorian hospital.

My right hon. Friend rightly campaigns vociferously for his constituents in Hemel Hempstead, and I know he has spoken to the Secretary of State about this issue on several occasions. No formal decision has been made on the detail. He will know that his hospital trust has a view. I hope he will continue to engage with the trust and with us Ministers, and that he will put the points that he just put to the House to us in a meeting.

Around 15 years ago, when there was a Labour Government, we had a new hospital in Bishop Auckland. My constituents want to know why it is not used properly. In particular, will the Minister look at the latest proposal to close the stroke rehabilitation ward—ward 3—and reverse it?

The hon. Lady highlights an issue of great importance to her constituents and her local hospital. As she will be aware, decisions on changes to services are made by local NHS trusts and clinicians, to reflect their assessment of the best way to deliver care and meet clinical need in a particular locality. If she wishes to write to me about the details of her local hospital and the issue she just highlighted, I would be happy to respond as swiftly as possible.

The delivery of healthcare in rural settings presents some complex challenges, so I was delighted to hear what my hon. Friend said in his statement about the importance of community hospitals. Dorset is in phase 2, for want of a better phrase; will the Minister flesh out, to the best of his knowledge, how that will come about, the timeframe and what my residents should expect?

I notice that my hon. Friend did not invite me to visit Dorset, although I visit him fairly regularly anyway so may well take advantage of such an occasion. The seed funding in the HIP 2 for Dorset is for the trust to develop its proposals for 12 community hospitals. That is an improvement. He is absolutely right to highlight the importance of community hospitals in a large rural county with transport challenges, given its rurality, and often an older population in some villages. As I said to my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon), if it is helpful, I will be happy to write to my hon. Friend to set out the process by which his local trust will work with the seed funding.

I spoke to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust earlier and asked what there might be from this announcement for our local hospitals; I was referred to the Conservative party press release, which is the only information that the trust has so far received. If I divide up the seed money between the three major hospitals that will get some money, I see that we could get as much as £9 million for planning for currently unfunded work that could happen in six to 10 years. That can be compared with £76 million wasted on consultants; £170 million, which is the current-year deficit for north-west London; and £1.3 billion, which is the Imperial maintenance backlog. We need that money now. When are we going to see it?

The hon. Gentleman made several points. I am pleased that he has been enjoying improving reading of Conservative party press releases. On his serious point about the Imperial trust, the seed funding will be for the trust to develop its plans as a trust and to put forward its proposals. I am happy, as I am in respect of other colleagues, to write to the hon. Gentleman to set out the process, how the money will be spent and how swiftly it can be allocated. There is always a need for the development of a business case when large sums of public money are involved, and I am sure he would expect one for any major investment in his trust. The seed funding will enable the trust to get going quickly and put together its case.

I welcome the excellent announcement of the seed money for Royal Preston Hospital. This is indeed a great day for healthcare in Lancashire. Will the Minister assure us that he will work with right hon. and hon. Members to shape the health vision for this part of our county?

Again, I am happy to welcome the positivity from my hon. Friend and the welcome for this money; the welcome for this massive additional investment into our NHS has been clear on the Conservative Benches. I am, of course, happy to give him the commitment that he wishes, which is to work with him and his colleagues to make sure that his constituents continue to get the healthcare that they need.

The King’s Fund has commented on the recent announcements:

“these piecemeal announcements are not the same as having a proper, multi-year capital funding plan.”

So could the Minister clarify by what criteria these schemes have been selected, and what are his spending plans for the long term to repair our crumbling NHS?

The hon. Lady refers to piecemeal announcements. I have to say that the reason we are now coming up with an approach—a new approach—that delivers rolling capital investment to a strategic vision linked to investment elsewhere in the health service is that, singularly, the previous Government utterly failed to do that. On criteria and process, as I mentioned, the bids considered were put forward by individual NHS trusts and we have considered them against the usual bidding process value-for-money criteria. If it is helpful to her, as with other colleagues to whom I have committed to write, I will be happy to write to her about process rather than the specifics of individual hospitals. If there is a particular trust that she wishes to highlight to me, if she writes to me, I will include the response on that in the letter.

May I congratulate my hon. Friend on his statement, which is so encouraging because it demonstrates our long-term ambitious plans for the NHS? I was particularly pleased to see the investment in CT scanners as technology and medicine are moving so fast. Does he agree that the screening programmes in the NHS, supported by the capital budget that he is announcing today, are helping to save lives and that we must do all we can to encourage these programmes?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are investing to make sure that, when people need care, that care is there for them, but he is absolutely right to highlight that prevention is always better than cure. The investment that we are making in these CT scanners and X-ray machines and, indeed, the steps forward that we are seeing in the research and development of new technologies, all contribute to improving our ability to prevent illnesses.

May I express to the Minister my disappointment that, in the list of hospitals, there is not one in the whole of the west midlands? I say that in particular because when, in January 2018, Carillion went bust, a major casualty was the half-completed, but much-needed, Midland Metropolitan Hospital. After long representations to his negotiations, the new contract with Balfour Beatty has now been sent to both his Department and the Treasury. It just needs ministerial sign-off, so will he go back to his Department, get out the file and get this project moving?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. He is absolutely right to highlight the challenges about Midland Metropolitan Hospital. I know, in the spirit of bipartisan sentiment, how hard he has been working on that issue on behalf of his constituents, and I also know how hard Toby Lewis has been working on this as well in running that hospital trust. I have looked into the matter recently. I am very happy to meet him to talk through with him where we are and what the next steps are because, like him, I am keen that we get things moving.

Record numbers of patients are being treated at Kettering General Hospital with increasingly world-class treatments. The difficulty that we have at Kettering General Hospital is the A&E department, which, when it was constructed 25 years ago, was designed to cope with 45,000 visitors and is expected to go through 100,000 attendances this year. The solution is an urgent care hub. There is already a fully worked-up business plan in place. May I welcome the addition of Kettering General Hospital on the list of future projects and ask: when can the hospital expect the money and when can it expect to start to build the new urgent care hub?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. He is right to highlight the importance of design, particularly in A&E and emergency departments, for the ability of staff to manage increasing demand and increasingly complex cases. As he highlights, Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is included in HIP 2 for the seed funding to develop that business case and its proposal. I am happy to work with him and I hope that he will work with the trust to develop the business case in accordance with the criteria for bidding against future funds.

A couple of years ago, my constituents and I led a spirited and successful campaign to maintain A&E and maternity services at Darlington Memorial Hospital, but our attention now turns to the state of mental health services in Darlington. I know these problems are not unique to my constituency, but they are dire. There are young people and children in Darlington who have been waiting for 18 months for an autism diagnosis. The situation needs urgent attention. Will the Minister please meet me to discuss how we can improve the situation?

As the hon. Lady will know, improving mental health services for those with mental health needs is at the heart of this Government’s agenda. The Government have already announced investments of over £400 million in improving the mental health estate since July 2017, but she highlights a specific point and has a specific request—that I meet her. Given the number of meetings and visit requests I have had today, there may be a slight wait, but I would be very happy to meet her.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting the Conquest Hospital in Hastings with my amazing neighbour, my right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Amber Rudd). The hospital was delighted with the £14 million that has just been allocated to its sister hospital in Eastbourne to help to develop wards there, and the trust would be absolutely delighted if it were able to deliver a new hospital. May I ask my right hon. Friend—he will soon be right hon. if he is not already—what more the Conservative MP team in East Sussex, one of whom, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), is sitting right in front of me, can do to get a new hospital delivered to our constituents on the East Sussex coast?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Amber Rudd) for their campaigning work on behalf of their local hospital trust, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, and their two local hospitals, the Conquest and Eastbourne. The investment that we envisage flowing from this seed funding will lead to current district general hospital services being provided from a significantly enhanced environment at both Eastbourne and the Conquest—something that my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) has campaigned for very actively. I encourage him to continue doing so and to continue working very closely with his local trust to ensure that it continues to develop those services.

I have with me a letter from the chief executive of North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, which identifies a capital gap in excess of £247.36 million as of July 2019. Will the Minister meet local MPs to discuss how the Government can work with the trust to address this capital need?

Many of my constituents have a two-hour round trip to access an acute general hospital, so they are jumping for joy at the opportunity of getting more money for the cottage hospitals or for a new general hospital in Cornwall, but what reassurances can the Minister give my constituents that this is more than just an aspiration for the people of Cornwall?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the need for access to facilities in his county, given its geography. I have been clear today, the Secretary of State has been clear and the Prime Minister has been clear in our commitment to the list of schemes that we have said will get the HIP 2 funding. I know that officials in my hon. Friend’s trust will be looking forward to working with him to develop their proposals.

I am pleased that my persistent and passionate campaigning for the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust must have been heard by those on the Government Benches; I am sure it has nothing to do with the two marginal constituencies of Morecambe and Lunesdale, and Barrow and Furness, which fall into the trust’s footprint.

When constituents get in touch with me frustrated with NHS wait times, it is invariably about the wait for mental health services, and some of the most difficult conversations I have had to have as a constituency MP have been with parents who have lost children to suicide or eating disorders, so why is the Government’s announcement today so silent on mental health issues, particularly regarding CAMHS?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady, who I know has campaigned on this. My hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (David Morris) has taken a real lead in fighting for improvements and investment in this area, so I pay tribute to him as well. The hon. Lady raises a point that other hon. Members have rightly raised about mental health services, particularly for children. She will know that before I was a Minister I campaigned in this House on eating disorder support services with the charity Beat. She is absolutely right to highlight the importance of early and appropriate intervention in those areas. That is why improving mental health is at the heart of our agenda and why, alongside these announcements, since July 2017 we have, for example, announced investments of over £400 million in improving mental health services. Yesterday’s and today’s announcements are another part of our overall strategic vision for investing in and improving our NHS, and they should be read in the round with all the other announcements.

I warmly welcome the Minister’s statement demonstrating, yet again, our commitment to the NHS. I particularly welcome the commitment to community care. In that regard, will he meet me to discuss Wareham Community Hospital and the proposal for a hub, perhaps in addition to going to Ealing, North Devon and Staffordshire? He is officially welcome in Dorset. Perhaps he could even stop off in North Dorset on his way back home.

What is one more invitation to a meeting and a visit? I am of course very happy to accept my hon. Friend’s hospitality in his constituency and to meet him. He makes a very important point, which my hon. Friend the Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare) alluded to, about the importance of community hospitals and community health facilities. That is exactly what is at the heart of the proposals that his county and his trust are developing, and that is exactly the right thing for them to be doing.

I am sure the Minister will agree that Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is an outstanding trust. It always comes in within budget and regularly has good or outstanding ratings for care, as I have experienced personally over the past two years. Disappointingly, Sheffield is not mentioned in this announcement. However, rather than my simply complaining, will he agree to meet me, the chair of the hospitals trust, Tony Pedder, and officials to discuss their very ambitious plans to renovate Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield, which already provides a top centre for cancer treatment and could be even better with the Minister’s help and the necessary funding?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that note of deep positivity, which has not necessarily been universally heard from Opposition Members. Again, I would be happy to meet him.

As we all recognise, the NHS is coming under increasing pressure to meet people’s health needs. Does my hon. Friend agree that the new Bolton College of Medical Sciences will play a key part in delivering the next generation of health professionals to meet those needs?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the huge contribution that that new medical school will make to delivering a highly trained, highly motivated local workforce. There is strong evidence that when people graduate from medical school their first post tends to be in the near vicinity of that school. I therefore think that he can look forward to, as I say, a highly motivated, highly trained workforce to continue delivering first-class healthcare to his constituents.

I welcome today’s statement and the benefit it will bring to Northern Ireland by way of the Barnett consequentials. I also welcome the reference to NHS workforce investment. The Minister will no doubt be aware that Northern Ireland faces a very particular challenge with the recruitment and retention of consultants. Will he outline when and if the situation will be addressed that currently disincentivises consultants from doing any overtime while attempts are made to fill those vacancies, because that is having a knock-on impact on the waiting lists in Northern Ireland?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her comments and for their tone. She is absolutely right to highlight the importance of the workforce. Investment in new, first-class buildings and in equipment is vital because they are the tools that the amazing workforce need to do their job. She highlights a specific point about pensions, particularly consultants’ pensions. As she will be aware, we have been looking at this, and the Secretary of State has recently launched a consultation more broadly on proposals to address the challenges on pensions taxation.

Thanks to the brilliant chief executive, Sarah-Jane Marsh, and the fantastic team of doctors and nurses and all the support staff, the most seriously ill children from Dudley and elsewhere in the west midlands receive the most fantastic care at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. But that care is provided in buildings that are 155 years old and, as I understand it, there is no possibility of them being replaced for at least another 15 years. I know that the Minister has had a lot of requests for meetings and visits today, but I would like to ask him to make the short trip to Birmingham and come with me to meet Sarah-Jane Marsh and the staff, see what they are doing and see how much better it could be if he managed to find a way of enabling the hospital to have the new facilities it needs.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He is right to highlight the world-leading work of that hospital, carried out by Sarah-Jane Marsh and her team. He is right: it is a team effort. Every single person in the NHS family is vital to delivering those amazing outcomes and he is right to highlight that. I am very happy, as ever, to visit the great city of Birmingham, and even more so to do it in tandem with him.

I want to push the Minister on the whole issue of the devolution settlement and the Barnett consequentials. Can he confirm when the Welsh Government will receive this additional capital funding, so that we can make decisions in Wales about where our hospitals need investment? He can be reassured that he does not need to visit any Welsh hospitals.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He will be aware that I spoke last week with the Welsh Health Minister and may yet be visiting Cardiff to see him anyway. He is right to pick up on the need for the devolved Administrations to understand what the Barnett consequentials are, so that they can start planning. If I may, I will write to him about timescales and so on, but I want to reiterate the reassurance that the Barnett consequentials will be there.

The two Budgets in 2017 allocated some £3.9 billion for estates planning and also to tackle the huge maintenance backlog that has been allowed to mushroom under the Government. As of now, how much of that allocation from 2017 has been spent, and how much of it has been announced in today’s statement?

I am happy to tell the hon. Gentleman that the announcements we are making today are for new money.

I welcome this statement on the commitment to the selected six hospitals in this year and 34 others over a period. I had occasion on Friday past to visit the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, which is well aware of the squeeze on staffing, resources and equipment, with theatres lying vacant because there are not the people to be there. The Government have to understand that hospitals in every area need investment, and the NHS needs to be sustained with block funding. Under the Barnett formula, how much will hospitals in Northern Ireland benefit from this money?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. As I said to the hon. Members for Ogmore (Chris Elmore) and for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day), I am happy to write detailing the process, and I am happy to include the hon. Gentleman and his hon. and right hon. Friends in that.

I welcome the Minister to his new position and congratulate him. We have a mental health crisis, as everyone is well aware. I want to highlight the predicament in Warwickshire, where the suicide rate is significantly higher—25% higher —than the national average. St Michael’s Hospital in Warwick has a fantastic reputation but, despite that, it is losing all its acute mental health beds to Coventry. We need greater capacity, not reduced capacity. The Caludon Centre site in Coventry does not have the capacity and is not fit for purpose. Will the Minister meet me and visit St Michael’s Hospital, which is an excellent facility that needs investment?

The hon. Gentleman rightly highlights the importance of mental health care and services for those with mental health needs. I go back to the point that this Government have placed those needs and that care front and centre of our approach and have put investment in place to back up that commitment. In respect of his specific request for a visit and a meeting, it may take a little time, given the number of colleagues who have asked to see me, but of course I am happy to do so.

I saw the professionalism of NHS staff on one of my recent night shifts at Derriford Hospital. They told me that they need more staff, not necessarily more buildings, but may I ask the Minister about the £600 million commitment to Derriford Hospital? This is welcome but surprising, as we have not asked for a new hospital. May I ask how that figure was arrived at and, if the actual figure is more than £600 million, what will happen—will the Minister fund the difference? Does this mean that the projects we had asked for, such as the planned care centre and the health hub network, will now be approved quickly, so that we can get on and build those shovel-ready projects?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for attempting to pile a number of requests into his question. On where bids have come from for these moneys, they have come from those trusts and been worked up by those local trusts. On the specific requests he has and that he wants to raise with me about particular shovel-ready projects, I am very happy to look at those with him.

May I welcome the new Minister to his place and give him the opportunity to make his mark? Halton Hospital has been turned down twice for much-needed capital investment. It is desperate for investment. Will he meet me and my neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Halton (Derek Twigg), and secure the future for Halton Hospital?

As that is the final request for a meeting, it would be churlish of me to say no to the hon. Gentleman. I am very happy to meet him, as I am happy to meet any Member of this House to discuss this announcement and our commitment to funding the NHS because we are the party of the NHS.