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Frontline Health Services

Volume 669: debated on Tuesday 7 January 2020

We are delivering on our five-year NHS settlement confirmed in January 2019, which is the largest cash injection in our public services since the second world war and will provide the NHS with an additional £33.9 billion more per year by 2023-24 compared with 2018-19. The settlement will shortly be enshrined in law.

Flint Community Hospital in my constituency of Delyn was closed by the Betsi Cadwaladr health board back in 2013, with the loss of a minor injuries unit and several important community beds where the elderly especially were able to recover from surgery close to their friends and family. Despite this being devolved to the Welsh Government, what hope can my right hon. Friend give to the people of Delyn and Flint that funds will be available so that such vital services in the community can be resurrected?

My hon. Friend will know that the NHS is this Government’s No. 1 spending priority. I just wish that it was the same for the Labour Government in Wales, who have let down Welsh people time and again, especially when it comes to healthcare. In the recent spending round in September, the Welsh Government received an additional £600 million, much of which can be put to good use in the NHS system in Wales. I hope that they are wise enough to help the Welsh people and, in particular, to look again at resurrecting Flint Community Hospital.

One of the major crises is the recruitment of GPs, so it is not just money that needs to be thrown at the issues. What steps is the Treasury taking to ensure that when money is provided, it is spent well and, crucially, that it is not stop-start funding, so that the NHS can properly plan for the long term, particularly in the recruitment of frontline staff?

It is worth reminding Members that one of the reasons the NHS has so many problems, including with the recruitment of GPs and in hospitals, is the PFI policies of the previous Labour Government, which have cash starved many NHS trusts for far too long. We are now putting that right with our historic settlement. The hon. Member is quite right about the importance of recruiting more GPs to have more appointments, and that is why we set out in our manifesto exactly how we are going to do that.

The extra billions for the NHS are to be welcomed, but the real challenge in Goole, Scunthorpe and Grimsby hospitals is a backlog in capital. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that, come the Budget, there will be capital funding to ensure that our hospitals can be upgraded?

I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. He makes an important point. As he will know, the Government will have a comprehensive spending review later this year, and there will be a multi-year capital settlement. Having the right amount of capital to ensure that we do all that is required for our NHS will be a priority.

Some 50% of people living with cancer require radiotherapy treatment, and yet only 5% of the cancer budget is spent on radiotherapy. What that means in real terms is that constituents of mine have to make two, three or four-hour roundtrips to get life-saving daily treatment. Will the Chancellor commit to spending money on radiotherapy provision, to provide satellite units at places such as Westmorland General Hospital?

The hon. Gentleman raises a very important issue. We are absolutely committed to providing the resources necessary for the NHS to provide even better cancer treatment for all our constituents. That is one of the reasons for this record financial settlement. Capital is also necessary, and further capital investment to have better cancer treatment will also be a priority.