We recognise that there will be increased pressures on the NHS and social care during winter, and substantial preparations have been and are being made. The NHS has already published its winter plan, and we will shortly publish the winter plan for social care.
That is exactly why there is a need for significant additional funding to prepare for a surge this winter, and that has to include a fully funded pay rise for health and care staff. At the height of the crisis, the Secretary of State was saying, “Now is not the time to consider a pay rise.” When will the time be? Is it now or some time in the future?
There is a looming mental health crisis this winter, and as such it is vital to meet with experts. I know the Secretary of State believes that that is important, so I asked him several parliamentary questions wanting to know how many mental health trusts and organisations he had met during the first three months of lockdown. I was told that he “holds these meetings regularly”, but a freedom of information request revealed that he and the Mental Health Minister organised only two meetings with mental health trusts and organisations during that entire period. Can the Secretary of State confirm that he did not attend either of those two meetings? Does he think that is an acceptable track record?