National Health Service Bill

April 2016

The Bill proposes taking powers out of clinician's hands and putting them back in those of the Secretary of State - reversing the work this Government has been carrying out to help the NHS produce its own plan for the future.  For that reason, I think that implementing the Bill would be an unnecessary upheaval and the wrong approach to improving our NHS.

I am conscious that there is also a good deal of scaremongering associated with this Bill in relation to the privatisation of the NHS.  I can firmly assure you that this Government is wholly committed to ensuring that the NHS remains free at the point of use.

In reality, following the reforms undertaken by this Government (which empower the NHS to set and carry out its own expert plan for its own future), the NHS has recently been recognised as the best health service in the world.

This is a ringing endorsement of our decision to reform the NHS and to invest over £7 billion extra funding in real terms in the health service during the last Parliament.  There are now 1.3 million more operations being delivered each year compared to 2010, 10,600 more doctors and almost 10,600 more nurses.  I am also proud that the Prime Minister has promised to continue this investment in this Parliament with over £10 billion addition NHS spending in real terms per annum by 2020/21.  This will mean spending on the NHS will rise in every year in real-terms.

In my view, giving operational control for the day-to-day running of services to doctors was the right decision - but the Government has always been clear that Ministers are responsible for the NHS, and I am proud of its performance in challenging circumstances.  The Government's health reforms have focused on the role of the clinician, believing that they are best placed to commission local health services, as they have the best understanding of local needs.