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NHS Capacity: Winter 2020-21

Volume 679: debated on Tuesday 1 September 2020

In July this year my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced £3 billion of additional funding to help the NHS to address the challenges of winter. In addition, in August this year we set out an £300 million for the enhancement of urgent and emergency care capacity and to provide infection control measures.

I thank the Minister and the Secretary of State for the forward-thinking measures to support winter capacity in our hospitals. We should not, however, forget the work of our hospices, which have no seasons and work compassionately all year round. Will my hon. Friend and the Secretary of State join me in visiting one of the jewels in the crown of my constituency—Mary Stevens hospice, which due to covid-19 has had to delay the official opening of its day services unit?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to pay tribute to the amazing work of hospices. She is also right to highlight the work of Mary Stevens hospice in her constituency, of which she is a great champion. I very much look forward to taking up her offer to visit.

I thank the Secretary of State for the investment into Warrington A&E announced recently. An additional £4.3 million will create a treatment plaza and, most importantly, a new paediatric A&E unit for the hospital. This investment is very welcome for the short term, but will the Minister and the Secretary of State meet me to discuss the longer-term issues for our hospital—plans for a better healthcare facility in Warrington South, better parking, and, in the long term, a new hospital?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He is right to highlight the investment we are making in NHS infrastructure, as he did recently in his Warrington Guardian column. He is well known for his energetic campaigning, on behalf of his constituents, for a new hospital. Although such decisions are for the spending review, I would be very happy to meet him.

I welcome the extra £1.6 million the Government are investing in Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department ahead of the crucial winter period, but will the Minister build on this work by ensuring that the new plans for a £25 million A&E department at Ipswich Hospital are accelerated? If this were to happen, it would go some way towards alleviating my constituents’ concerns about the merger with Colchester Hospital.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. When I visited him earlier this year, he made a powerful case for the longer term for a new A&E department at his hospital—a cause that he has been a driving force behind. I know that the trust is keen to progress this, and I would hope and expect that it is engaging with him. Although the spending review will see the Chancellor’s final decision on spending on this, my hon. Friend’s voice is being heard loud and clear.

The capacity of Barnet Hospital to cope with winter pressure is being assisted by a brand-new modular ward with 35 beds. Can the Minister assure me that there will be continued investment in expanding NHS services in Barnet so that it can cope with any covid pressures this winter and also help to clear the backlog of people who have been waiting for treatment for other conditions?

As my right hon. Friend highlights, the new modular 35-bed ward at Barnet Hospital will add to its capacity to cope with winter pressures. More broadly, we have invested £2.5 million in Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, of which Barnet is part. She is of course right to make the case for continued investment in longer term, with her typical effectiveness and commitment to her constituency, and I am always happy to discuss that further with her.