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NHS Funding

Volume 674: debated on Tuesday 24 March 2020

We have been clear that the NHS will get whatever it needs to respond to the coronavirus. The Chancellor announced at Budget a £5 billion response fund and we have already allocated a significant proportion of that to a range of measures.

What frontline staff do in the NHS every single day is remarkable at the best of times, and what we are asking them to do now and in the weeks ahead will be incredibly challenging in terms of both the physical and emotional pressures and the personal risks to NHS staff, so would my right hon. Friend reaffirm that as well as providing the extra money announced in the Budget, the Government will do all they can to ensure that frontline NHS staff get all the equipment they need, including protective clothing, to get the country through this crisis?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Chancellor has made it clear that we will do whatever it takes to protect our NHS frontline, not just through PPE, as he correctly identifies, but by looking at additional capacity, such as in the independent hospitals sector, and at the support available, including the £1.3 billion allocated to speed up the discharge of patients, the £1.6 billion allocated to local authorities for adult social care and, of course, funding such as the £30 million for diagnostics research and £10 million for diagnostic testing that has also been allocated in recent days.

As a House, we require more specific detail about exactly what funding and arrangements are being provided across Government in relation to testing and PPE availability. We are all hearing from staff that they do not have the resources they need. The Minister talked about that funding, but to what extent is it being spent in the field, and what discussions has his Department had with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department of Health and Social Care about pulling in additional manufacturers not just for ventilators but for PPE and testing?

The hon. Lady will know from the statements made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care that significant efforts have been made on this, working with domestic manufacturers and procuring additional resource and stock internationally. On funding, we have been very clear with the Department of Health and Social Care that it will have whatever funding it needs, and that has been the case to date.