Thank you for your email about the NHS Reinstatement Bill, and its second reading next Friday 11th March. I am glad to see your support for our NHS, and fully appreciate your passion for this. It is shared by so many.

 

The NHS is important to me too. My children and grandchild were born on the NHS, and like the rest of the family, depend upon it. My father and brother have given their working lives to it as doctors.

 

It’s so important to me that I am spending Thursday and Friday in Bury, Lancashire, looking at how it is working there, from the integration of adult social care between the NHS and the ten Greater Manchester local authorities, to one of the Prime Minister’s General Practice pilots, examining new ways of delivering primary health care, including increasing access to GPs during evenings and week-ends. So I will not be in Westminster, and will not be able to vote against a possibly well meaning, but misguided Bill.

 

As you might be aware, I am a Minister in the Department of Health. I spend much of my working time on NHS issues, working with extraordinary clinicians and allied health professionals delivering a remarkable service to the public. I see the evidence of their hard work every day, from new treatments available to those suffering from mental health problems, to those delivering advances in medical science. They are working in an NHS with a Five Year Forward View put together by its Chief Executive needing £8bn extra investment by 2020, which only the Conservative Party promised to support financially at the last election. This investment has now been increased to £10bn. Amongst other things, it will allow the NHS to offer 800,000 more operations and treatments, and spend up to £2bn more on new drugs, including continuing support to our initiatives such as the Cancer Drugs Fund.

 

The commitment could only be made due to the strong economy being delivered by the Government, without which the NHS would be imperilled. There is no ‘dismantling’ of the NHS as is claimed by the Bills supporters; the limited opportunities for private sector involvement, introduced by the last Labour Government, assist the public element of the NHS considerably. We have a thriving Healthcare sector in the UK, supplying the NHS and others, employing thousands of people, earning revenues for the UK and the NHS abroad, and providing some of the innovation which makes all my constituents safer and healthier.

 

I represent an NHS treating more patients than ever before, performing more operations, with more clinical staff. Yes, it has to respond to the pressures of modern society and changing demographics, and I see it doing that every day. The Reinstatement Bill has a lot to do with politics, and little to do with what I see my colleagues wrestling with.

 

So thank you for your interest and support for the NHS, which I know is absolutely genuine, but I do not think this Bill has anything to offer what it really needs.