215 Lindsay Hoyle debates involving the Department of Health and Social Care

Oral Answers to Questions

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd April 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Andrew Stephenson Portrait Andrew Stephenson
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I would be very happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the issue.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab)
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Happy St George’s day, Mr Speaker.

Westminster is awash with rumours that the Prime Minister will call a July general election, presumably to avoid giving his Rwanda gimmick the time to fail. I have a very simple question for the Minister: will he repeat the pledge that the Prime Minister made last year and promise that NHS waiting lists will be lower at the time of the general election than when the Prime Minister came to office?

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Andrea Leadsom Portrait Dame Andrea Leadsom
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It is fantastic that hard-working GPs have delivered 60 million more appointments a year than in 2019. That is a credit to their efforts. The Government have undertaken a wide range of approaches to try to reduce the administrative burden. We are focused on trying to deal with some of the issues that GPs have raised with me about the primary and secondary care interface so that they do not have to write all the fit notes and liaise with consultants. We have also spent more than £200 million on digital telephony. Importantly, the additional roles reimbursement scheme has added more than 36,000 more professional staff, from physios to pharmacists to those in GP practices, to try to support patient access.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Preet Kaur Gill Portrait Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab/Co-op)
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At the last general election, the Government promised to deliver 6,000 more GPs by 2024-25, but there are still 2,000 fewer GPs than in 2015. Part of the problem is that morale has plummeted in the past decade, meaning that experienced family doctors and newly qualified GPs are hanging up their stethoscopes. What does the Minister say after scrapping two GP retention schemes last month? Will she come clean today about another broken manifesto promise?

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Andrew Stephenson Portrait Andrew Stephenson
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The hon. Member raises a very important point. Obesity is linked to many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes. We are delivering an ambitious programme of work to create a healthy environment to support people in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. This includes restricting the placements of less healthy products in shops and online, calorie labelling on food sold in restaurants and a tax on the sugary drinks industry, which has removed the equivalent of 45,000 tonnes of sugar from soft drinks.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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My right hon. Friend makes an important point. The purpose of the levelling-up fund is to help local areas to address what they need locally, rather than respond to diktat from central London. I encourage her to work closely, as I know she will, with local agencies, the council and others making those important decisions, so that their levelling-up announcements include health, as an integral part of her mission to improve the lives of her constituents.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
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Back in the real world, the record of the last Labour Government is that we increased life expectancy by three years. Under this Government, it has stalled for the first time in a century, with people in Blackpool, for example, expected to live four and a half years less than the national average. Is the Secretary of State proud of this shocking record, or will people have to wait to elect Chris Webb in Blackpool South and a Labour Government at Westminster to finally turn the tide on health inequalities?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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As the hon. Lady will know—she saw the statistics published very recently—we are in fact treating more people at earlier stages of their cancer. I want to take on her point about gynaecological waits, because that is important. We are spending more than £8 billion in this spending review period on additional elective activity, and investing in additional capacity, including community diagnostic centres and surgical hubs, many of which provide gynaecological tests and procedures. She may have missed it, but the latest published management information for March shows that the longest waits for gynaecology services have reduced by nearly 95% since their peak in September 2021. Of course there is more to do, but we are making progress. I thank all the doctors and teams who are involved in that important work.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Preet Kaur Gill Portrait Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab/Co-op)
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Today, we have seen alarming figures pointing to the systematic de-prioritisation of women’s health, with 600,000 women in England waiting for gynaecological treatment, 33,000 women waiting more than a year, and under two thirds of eligible women screened for breast cancer in the last three years. Will the Secretary of State come clean and admit that under this Government, women’s health has become an afterthought?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I dispute the 17-year figure, as it can vary across innovations. The figure is contested, but my hon. Friend raises an important point. We have a plan to prioritise the acceleration of patient access, thereby ensuring safe, effective and innovative medical technology for patients and the NHS. Our ambition is backed by funding, and we are reforming the medical technology regulatory framework, introducing the innovative devices access pathway pilot and launching frameworks to increase the availability of innovative products for the sake of patients across England and the United Kingdom.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I am delighted to be able to tell the hon. Gentleman that we have modelled down the ambitions, so the figure we initially provided was higher than 2.5 million appointments. That is because we are focused on delivering the dental recovery plan, rather than overpromising.

The hon. Gentleman finds it easy to call our children short and fat, but he shies away from welfare reform, calling it shameless and irresponsible. He says he is ready to stand up to middle-class lefties, but Labour has never put patients first by condemning the unions that strike. He makes glossy promises about reforming the NHS in England, yet Labour has failed completely—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I gently say that we need to get a lot of Back Benchers in, and I am sure both sides want to do that.

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting
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The last Labour Government delivered the shortest waiting times and the highest patient satisfaction in history, which is a record that the right hon. Lady’s Government cannot begin to touch.

Back to dentistry, the chief dental officer says the announcement is “nowhere near enough.” The British Dental Association says:

“This ‘Recovery Plan’ is not worthy of the title.”

It also says that the recovery plan will not stop the “exodus” of dentists and will not meet the Government’s targets. Who should the public trust, and why should they trust the Health Secretary to deliver when her own adviser, her own Minister and, crucially, dentists all say that she is brushing the truth under the carpet?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I thank my right hon. Friend for raising that matter. I understand that a consultation was conducted locally and that more than 5,000 local people and staff responded. Their feedback will be analysed by an independent research agency, which will produce a report for the Mid and South Essex ICB, and a meeting is due to take place in public in July. I will, of course, continue to take an interest in this matter.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) (SNP)
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The recent announcements on fit note reform are just the latest in a long string of attacks on the most vulnerable people in society. Sick and disabled people are being vilified, when, as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation points out, almost two thirds of those living in destitution live with a chronic health condition or a disability. The UK Government are continuing their track record in failing, and making life more difficult for, disabled people. Does the Secretary of State understand how much more difficult these changes will make people’s lives?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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We switched on our fully funded dental recovery plan, in case the hon. Gentleman was not listening carefully earlier, on 1 March. Nearly 500 more practices in England are accepting new adult patients than at the end of January, and even more will do so under the dental recovery plan. We have plans to bring in new dental vans to help our most isolated communities. We are also bringing in the Smile4Life programme for children, because prevention must be a critical part of our dental recovery plan.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee.

Oral Answers to Questions

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Tuesday 5th March 2024

(3 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to talk about the whole health system. One thing we are doing as part of our work on urgent and emergency care is preventing people from being admitted to hospital unnecessarily, or from being brought to A&E in the first place. Primary care is part of that. In our investment in expanding medical school places, we are particularly encouraging medical schools, such as the new Kent and Canterbury Medical School near me, to train students to work more outside hospitals, including in primary care.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

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Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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I work closely with colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions on the recruitment of people looking for jobs in social care, and I will raise that point with my colleague in the Department.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
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It was the Minister’s party that promised to fix the crisis in social care “once and for all”. With vacancy rates almost three times above the national average and turnover rates for new staff at more than 45%, it is clear that the Government failed. Labour’s plan for a national care service with clear standards for providers and a new deal for staff will give social care the fundamental reset it needs. The Government have done it with our workforce plan, and they have half-heartedly tried it with dentistry. Does the Minister want to copy our homework once again?

Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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Let us be honest, Labour has no plan for social care. Whatever the shadow Minister says, it is unfunded. There is no funding committed to it and it is not meaningful. Those of us on the Conservative side of the House are reforming adult social care. We not only have a plan, but it is in progress.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Amy Callaghan Portrait Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
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I have asked the Secretary of State a number of times how she intends to recruit and retain social care staff, particularly with the visa changes coming into effect next Monday, stopping those from overseas coming to fill skills gaps from bringing their spouse or dependants with them. I ask again: how does the Secretary of State intend to improve the recruitment and retention of staff in the social care sector while her colleagues effectively work to undermine her?

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Andrew Stephenson Portrait Andrew Stephenson
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Significant investment is going in to reduce both general wait times and cancer wait times. More patients on the cancer pathway have been seen than ever before; nearly 220,000 patients were seen last December following an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer, representing 117% of December 2019 levels. We continue to keep this under review and continue to strive to make the system go faster and reduce the elective backlog.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare (Erith and Thamesmead) (Lab)
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NHS figures from December show that the number of women waiting for gynaecological treatment reached another record high of nearly 600,000. That number has tripled since 2012. A Labour Government will cut NHS waiting lists in England by funding 2 million more appointments a year. What can the Minister say to the women waiting urgently for treatment?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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Again, it is for integrated care boards to assess the needs of their area. If there are concerns about access to primary care, we are keen to give them the autonomy to make decisions about how they spend their budget. We have set expectations of integrated care boards in a couple of respects—in particular, we expect them to use the money that we have provided for dental care and we have set clear expectations that integrated care boards will introduce at least one women’s health hub in their area this year.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con)
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While we are talking about the recovery of primary care and the Secretary of State is at the Dispatch Box, the recovering access plan released last May talked about high-quality online consultation, text messaging services and online booking tools. They were due in July, but that became August and then December, and I understand that it has now been delayed indefinitely due to a claim made against NHS England in what is a £300 million project. That delay is hitting access to primary care. Will the Secretary of State update the House?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I will ask the relevant Minister to write to the hon. Lady.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab)
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The simple fact is that the Conservatives have been in power for 14 years, and general practice has never been in a worse state. Despite slogging their guts out, GPs are struggling because this Government have cut 2,000 GPs since 2015, making it even harder for patients to get an appointment. Given that, why has the Government decided that the NHS needs what the Institute for Fiscal Studies has described as the biggest funding cut since the 1970s?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I thank my hon. Friend for supporting our dental recovery plan. Indeed, he is one of many colleagues who campaigned hard for it. I am pleased to inform him that dental activity, as measured by courses of treatment, has increased by 15% on the previous year in his local integrated care board area, and our plan will support further increases to dental access through some 2.5 million additional appointments across the country, including in his constituency. The first measure, namely new patient premiums, went live on Friday, and we hope to have the results very soon.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab)
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With a general election in the air, I welcome what the Secretary of State has said about baby loss certificates and Martha’s rule—there is genuine cross-party agreement on this. I also thank her for advance notice of today’s important written ministerial statement.

However, with a general election in the air and given the Secretary of State’s principled, vocal and consistent opposition to funding the NHS by abolishing the non-dom tax status, on a scale of one to 10—one being utterly shameless and 10 being highly embarrassed—how red-faced will she be when the Chancellor adopts Labour’s policy tomorrow?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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The Leader of the Opposition is a former barrister, and barristers like to rely on evidence, so let me give some evidence on what the Labour-run NHS in Wales looks like. People are almost twice as likely to be waiting for treatment under the Labour-run Welsh NHS—21.3% of people in Wales are waiting for hospital treatment after a consultant referral, compared with 12.8% in England. Patients in Labour-run Wales are, on average, waiting five weeks longer for NHS treatment than patients in England, and the number of patients in Wales who are escaping to seek treatment in England has increased by 40% in two years. But don’t worry, folks, according to the Leader of the Opposition this is the blueprint—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I remind everyone that these are topical questions. It is about the many Members I need to get in, rather than the ping-pong over the Dispatch Box. Let us move on to Andrew Jones as a good example.

Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con)
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T2. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I am talking to my local integrated care board about establishing the first centre of dental excellence in North Yorkshire, to be located in Harrogate, to build on the dental recovery plan. Does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State agree that boosting capacity is critical to catching up from the pandemic, and that centres of dental excellence are a very good way to achieve it?

Andrea Leadsom Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Dame Andrea Leadsom)
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I completely agree with my hon. Friend that we need more capacity in our dental workforce, and I know he will be a big advocate for his constituency. We set out in the first ever NHS long-term workforce plan that we will increase dentistry training places by 40% by 2031-32. Our dental recovery plan sets out many different measures to improve capacity.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Amy Callaghan Portrait Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
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Later this month I will be 10 years cancer free, having survived melanoma first as a teenager and again in my early 20s. Can the Secretary of State look me in the eye and guarantee that she is doing all she can to prevent others from getting the same diagnosis ?

NHS Dentistry: Recovery and Reform

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Wednesday 7th February 2024

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab)
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I wholeheartedly associate myself and my party with the Secretary of State’s remarks on sending our best wishes to His Majesty the King. Having gone through a cancer diagnosis myself, I particularly send best wishes to his family, for whom a diagnosis is often more difficult than for the person receiving it.

Also in the generous spirit in which we have begun, may I thank the Health and Social Care Secretary for accidentally e-mailing me her entire plan yesterday? That goes above and beyond the courtesy that we normally expect. I look forward to receiving her party’s election manifesto any day now—but of course we will have to write ours first to give her party some inspiration.

After 14 years of Conservative Government, NHS dentistry is in decay. Eight in 10 dentists are not taking on new patients, and in the south-west of England the figure is 99%. One in 10 people has been forced to attempt DIY dentistry—Dickensian conditions!—because they cannot see an NHS dentist, and they cannot afford to go private. [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Mr Baker, I am sorry, but I don’t want any more heckling from you; you did a little bit earlier. I wanted everybody to listen to the Secretary of State, and I expect them to do the same for the shadow Secretary of State.

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting
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Don’t worry, Mr Speaker: I will come back to the Parliamentary Private Secretary shortly. Tooth decay is the No.1 reason for children aged six to 10 being admitted to hospital. Unbelievably, there have been reports of Ukrainian refugees booking dentist appointments back home and returning for treatment, because it is easier to fly to a war-torn country than it is to see an NHS dentist in England. Well, at least one Government policy is getting flights off the ground—and it is certainly not the Government’s Rwanda scheme failure.

Let us look at the human consequences of this Conservative tragedy. Labour’s candidate in Great Yarmouth, Keir Cozens, told me about Jeanette, a young woman in her 30s who has struggled with gum and mouth problems all her life. She used to be able to get treatment; now she cannot find an NHS dentist in all of Norfolk to take her. She cannot afford to go private. It hurts to smile, it hurts to laugh, and the pain is so great that Jeanette does not go out anymore. Just this week, she resorted to trying to remove her tooth herself. That is not right for anyone of any age, but Jeanette should be in the prime of her life. Will the Secretary of State apologise to Jeanette and the millions like her for what the Conservatives have done to NHS dentistry?

After 14 years of neglect, cuts and incompetence, the Government have today announced a policy of more appointments, recruiting dentists to the areas most in need and toothbrushing for children. It sounds awfully familiar. They are adopting much of Labour’s rescue plan for dentistry. Does that not show that the Conservatives are out of ideas of their own, and are looking to Labour to fix the mess they have made? I say: next time Conservative Ministers say that Labour does not have a plan, or that Labour’s plan is not credible, don’t believe a word of it.

There are some differences between our two parties’ approaches. Labour is pledging an extra 700,000 urgent and emergency appointments, which are additional to the appointments announced today. Can the Health Secretary confirm that the Government’s plan does not provide any additional emergency support? Labour proposed supervised early-years toothbrushing, and Conservative MPs accused it of being “nanny state”. Does the Health Secretary stand by that label, or does she now support children under five being supported in brushing their teeth?

The key difference is that we recognise that our plan is a rescue plan, and that to put NHS dentistry back on its feet, immediate reform of the dental contract is needed. Without that, the Government’s plan is doomed to fail. Do not just take my word for it; the British Dental Association has said that the plan will not stop the exodus of dentists from the NHS, will not provide a dentist for every patient who needs one, and will not put an end to this crisis.

I come to the Parliamentary Private Secretary, the hon. Member for North Norfolk (Duncan Baker), and the miserable script that the Whips are spreading out on the Table. If Labour’s contract is to blame, why have the Government not reformed it in 14 years, and why are they not reforming it now? In 2010, the Conservatives promised in their election manifesto to reform the dental contract. They are bringing back not just Lord Cameron, but his broken promises. People have been desperately trying to get dental care for years, but there was nothing from the Conservative party. Now that we are in an election year, the Conservatives are trying to kick the can down the road, and are scrambling for a plan. They only discover their heart when they fear in their heart for their political futures, and the consequences have been seen: queues around the block in Bristol.

Finally, the Secretary of State is promising reform after 2025 and after the next general election. Who is she trying to kid? After 2025, the Conservatives will be gone, and if they are not, NHS dentistry will be. How many more chances do they expect? How many more broken promises will there be? We had 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Their time is up, and it is time for Labour to deliver the change that this country needs.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I tried to help the hon. Gentleman by giving him an advance copy of my speech yesterday, yet that was his speech. This Government are focused on delivering for patients. Perhaps I can help him understand the difference between the Opposition’s proposals and the Government’s fully funded dental recovery plan. The Opposition’s ambitions reach only as far as 700,000 more appointments. Our plan will provide more than three times that number of appointments across the country—that is 2.5 million, to help him with his maths. We are offering golden hellos to 240 dentists who will work in hard-to-reach and under-served areas; their proposals cover only 200. They have no plan for training more dentists; we set out in the long-term workforce plan last year, and again in the dental recovery plan, that we will increase training places for dentists by 40% by 2031.

Then we have the centrepiece of the Opposition’s proposals: making teachers swap their textbooks for toothbrushes—an idea that is hated by teachers and that patronises parents. We believe that most parents do a great job of looking after their children. I know that the Labour party does not agree with that; the hon. Gentleman called our children short and fat on a media round. We believe that most parents do a great job, and that is why we support pregnant mums-to-be, and support parents in family hubs and nurseries. We will not wait until reception class, by which time children have already got their teeth.

I want to dwell on the experience of anybody living under Labour in Labour-run Wales. Health services in Wales are devolved, and the Leader of the Opposition has called Wales “the blueprint” for how the Opposition will run our health system. Welsh Labour has the highest proportion of NHS dental practices not accepting new adult patients, and the joint highest proportion of those not accepting new child patients. In Wales, 93% of NHS dental practices are not accepting new adult patients. That is a higher figure than for any other nation in the UK. Some 86% of practices there are not accepting new child patients, which is the joint highest figure with Northern Ireland. Our plan is fully funded, but how will Labour pay for its plan? By using the magical money tree. The list of policies funded by the non-dom policy is as long as my arm. In 2022, it promised to fund a workforce plan. Last September, it became breakfast club meals. By October, it morphed into 2 million appointments and scanning equipment. By Christmas, it was funding a dentistry plan. It is the same old Labour: it has no plan.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Father of the House.

Peter Bottomley Portrait Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con)
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The House enjoyed the words of the Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting), although I am not sure how many he wrote himself; some may have seemed rather familiar to anyone who read Matthew Parris this morning on going to Ukraine to have a filling fixed.

In West Sussex, in Worthing and Arun, we want the same situation found in parts of London, where dentists have a sign saying, “New NHS patients welcome”. Has the Secretary of State been working with the British Dental Association and the General Dental Council to bring forward registrations, to get incentives right, and to make sure that dentists are no longer told, “You can’t serve any more patients because you will go above your limits”? Can she confirm that we are taking limits off, so that dentists, especially the young ones, can do as much work as they can, and can help as many patients as possible, so that we can get back to the situation that we were in before Labour changed the rules about 20 years ago?

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Select Committee.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con)
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I welcome the plan. Recovery and reform is right, and the Select Committee will study the plan carefully. The dental Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Dame Andrea Leadsom), has already been invited to come before us, so that we can talk it through with her to see whether it reflects our aforementioned report on the subject. The golden hellos, the toothbrushing for pre-schoolers—as long as the workforce can handle it—and the mobile vans are good, but even a day longer of a contract focused on units of dental activity is a problem. Can the Secretary of State say how she plans to entice professionals into returning to NHS dentistry? So many have left, and that is key.

Oral Answers to Questions

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd January 2024

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Barry Sheerman, briefly—[Laughter.]

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Sheerman
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I have turned over a new leaf, Mr Speaker.

May I urge the Secretary of State to take this issue very seriously, to direct much more social media at young people and to get into schools the message about the real damage that can be done to the entire life of a child if the mother is drinking alcohol during pregnancy?

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Andrea Leadsom Portrait Dame Andrea Leadsom
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My hon. Friend is pushing against an open door. He may be aware that in 2023 we made some legislative changes to give the General Dental Council more flexibility to expand the registration options open to international dentists, tripling the capacity of three sittings of the overseas registration exam from August 2023 and increasing the number of sittings for the part 2 exam in 2024 from three to four. That will create an additional 1,300 places overall for overseas dentists aiming to work in the UK. We will also be bringing forward measures to enable dental therapists to work at the top of their training, which will expand the capacity. He is right that reform of the UDA is also required and we will be bringing forward our plans shortly.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Preet Kaur Gill Portrait Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab/Co-op)
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I want to share with Ministers the experience of Emma from Grimsby, who said:

“NHS dentistry is a joke in the town at the moment. Thankfully I managed to get an emergency appointment in Scunthorpe (after being offered one in Doncaster originally) and I’ve now been referred to hospital to have 3 wisdom teeth removed. My dentist closed at the onset of the pandemic and I’ve not been able to register with an NHS dentist since.”

What does the Minister have to say to Emma and the millions like her who cannot get an appointment when they need one?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is a fair man, and that, being so, he will point out to his constituents, when they call him with their issues, that ambulance response times for category 2 emergency incidents in his local area have in fact been over 30 minutes faster than last year. However, we accept of course that this is a two-year plan and will take time to meet our full ambitions. Interestingly, the latest figures show that we have provided £6.9 million from the community diagnostic centres fund for the development of a community diagnostic centre at Wakefield. Presumably he welcomes that Conservative innovation.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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My hon. Friend is right to point out that we are in the final few hours of the consultants’ ballot on the pay reform programme that we have offered the British Medical Association. I very much hope that consultants will feel able to support that programme, because it is about bringing together the frankly quite bureaucratic system that they have to deal with at the moment, so that they are assessed in a shorter time with less bother and paperwork, while respecting their need to train and keep up their education and supporting professional activities commitments. I hope that they will agree with us on that. As I have said to the junior doctors committee from this Dispatch Box, should they return with reasonable expectations, we will, of course, reopen negotiations.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - -

I call the shadow Minister.

Karin Smyth Portrait Karin Smyth (Bristol South) (Lab)
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The Secretary of State has said that preparation for winter started last January, but 54% of A&E departments were still rated inadequate or needing improvement in December, exacerbating the winter crisis. What will she do differently this year to ensure that we do not have another winter crisis in 2024-25?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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Again, the plan that we laid out last year is having a real impact at local level on the services being deployed through our accident and emergency services. We have seen discharge rates improving, for example. We appreciate that there can be local differences, but the importance that we put on maintaining that flow through hospitals is critical to ensuring that the waiting lists and waiting times that the hon. Lady describes are reduced. However, I gently remind the Labour party that it has been running the NHS in Wales for some time now, and it is a great shame that the good people of Wales—[Interruption.] The good people of Wales are waiting longer for their treatment—[Interruption.] They are almost twice as likely—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I am a little bothered, because we have a long way to go on the Order Paper. I call the SNP spokesperson.

Amy Callaghan Portrait Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
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We cannot discuss winter pressures in the NHS without acknowledging workforce shortages. The Secretary of State is having to contend with new immigration policies from her Cabinet colleagues that prevent dependants from coming to the UK, meaning that we are asking people to come and care for our loved ones while they leave behind theirs. I imagine that she is frustrated that that is now another barrier to recruiting staff to our health and care sectors. Has she expressed those frustrations to her Cabinet colleagues?

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Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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I am actually really shocked by the way the hon. Member referred to the care workforce, with terms like “It is all blah”—very shocking. I am determined that care workers should get the recognition they deserve. We have a 10-year plan for social care, and it is working: the care workforce grew by over 20,000 last year, vacancies in social care are down, and retention is up. We are reforming social care so that it works as a career. That is why, as I said a moment ago—I wish the hon. Member had been listening—we have introduced the first ever career pathway for social care workers and a new national care qualification.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
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But according to Care England and Hft, 54% of social care providers have increased their reliance on agency staff; 44% have turned down new admissions; and 18% have had to close services altogether. Labour’s fair pay agreements will ensure that staff in the sector are treated with the dignity and respect that will make them want to stay, but after 14 years, why do Ministers not have a proper plan to address the workforce crisis facing adult social care? Is it because it is a crisis of their making?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I thank my right hon. Friend for raising her local college, which does amazing work for the whole of the NHS as well as in her local area. I may have to retain a discreet silence over that particular application but I know that if any Member is sure to advocate effectively for their local area, it is my right hon. Friend.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare (Erith and Thamesmead) (Lab)
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Recruiting and retraining more NHS staff is crucial if women are to get gynaecology, obstetric and maternity care. I would like to share the story of Sandy Simmons. She was told 11 months ago that she needed surgery for a uterine prolapse; today, after nearly a year of pain, she is still waiting. Labour candidates such as Keir Cozens in Great Yarmouth are speaking up for women like Sandy and the 905 women waiting more than a year for treatment in Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Will the Secretary of State apologise to these women—or, like the Prime Minister, will she just walk away?

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Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith
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If only the reality was that rosy. The entire sector is calling out for reform of the Mental Health Act 1983. With our mental health services in crisis, why did the Government scrap the long-awaited and overdue mental health Bill, which could have started to alleviate pressures on trusts by reducing the numbers of people detained inappropriately and making services more fit for purpose? Is it not true that we need a Labour Government to take action on this issue?

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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It is going to be a long year.

Maria Caulfield Portrait Maria Caulfield
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I have news for the hon. Gentleman, because we have a plan and it is working. Our investment of £143 million into crisis support is showing early evidence of reducing admissions—admissions are 8% lower. With the crisis telephone services, which are available 24/7, we have admissions down 12%. More importantly, detentions under the Mental Health Act are 15% lower. We have a plan, and it is working.

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Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury
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I recently met two constituents with experience of invasive lobular breast cancer. Invasive lobular carcinoma is the second most common form of breast cancer, but it is not generally picked up by mammograms, and it behaves differently from other breast cancers. However, lobular breast cancer has been understudied and underfunded, and it urgently needs research funding. Will the Secretary of State tell the House what specific actions her Government are taking to address those gaps? Will she also reply to the Lobular Moon Shot Project, to which she—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. This is topical questions.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I gently remind the hon. Lady about the statement that I just gave. Last week we held the women’s health summit, at which I announced that we are encouraging research into conditions such as lobular breast cancer. I made that announcement because of two amazing women I met recently who were living with the condition. They were introduced to me by my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Sir Jeremy Quin) and my right hon. Friend—

Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury
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I am waiting for the reply.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Please can I just say that these are topicals? I have got to get through a big list, and lots of Members are standing. We need short, punchy questions, and the same with answers.

Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con)
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T6. I have been carrying out a health survey of thousands of residents in Harrogate and Knaresborough, to ask them for their experiences and views of the NHS. I will share the results with local healthcare professionals, to support them and their work. When the results are in, will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss how they will help inform and shape our local healthcare planning ?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend to discuss that. As always, he is an excellent advocate for his constituency, and I will enjoy listening to the results of his survey.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
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Mike Reader, Labour’s candidate for Northampton South, shared with me the horrific experience of Stanley, who had severe abdominal pain and called an ambulance, only to be told it would take hours and to go to A&E. There, he was told to wait for assessment on a patio chair outside. It was 3°. Who is to blame?

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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We understand how worrying the possibility of medication shortages can be. There is a supply issue with riluzole 50 mg tablets, caused by a supplier experiencing manufacturing issues. We have a well-established procedure in place to deal with such issues, and are working with the industry, the NHS and others to resolve it as quickly as possible. We have contacted alternative suppliers and have secured sufficient volumes of stock.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Amy Callaghan Portrait Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
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Cancer Research UK has found that too much UV radiation is the third biggest cause of cancer across these isles. Does the Secretary of State recognise that cost is a barrier for people wishing to protect their skin from the sun, and will she commit to having conversations with Cabinet colleagues to remove VAT on sun protection products, which will help protect NHS budgets and ultimately save lives?

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I look forward to seeing that in Chorley.

Jeremy Quin Portrait Sir Jeremy Quin (Horsham) (Con)
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I warmly welcome what my right hon. Friend said last week about encouraging research on lobular breast cancer, and I look forward to meeting the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the hon. Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), shortly to work out how we can operationalise what is her clear ambition.

Hospice Funding: Devon

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Wednesday 17th January 2024

(5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Is the hon. Gentleman’s intervention to do with Devon?

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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It is to do with the hospices and charities that the hon. Gentleman referred to.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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This debate is about funding in Devon. I am sure the hon. Member for Strangford could say something that relates to funding in Devon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The hon. Gentleman is right to refer to hospice funding in Devon, but while the hospice funding and charity giving in Devon is good, I suggest that it may be even better in Strangford. Each year in Northern Ireland, our fundraisers add £15 million to the four hospices; without that money, those hospices could not function. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Government must stop relying on people’s charity to fill the gap, and increase funding immediately to meet that need? I know that his charity givers in Devon do well, but the ones in Strangford do equally well.

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Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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The hon. Member raised that question in the Westminster Hall debate I referred to. He is talking about a specific situation. Rather than spending the limited time I have addressing that, I am keen to respond to my hon. Friend the Member for East Devon, who has secured this debate on hospice funding in Devon.

I was talking about the enormous importance of hospices and their role in our communities, and the strengths of having hospices in our communities add to the significance of the care they provide. I mentioned my own experience. Hospices do this thing of making a time that can seem completely unbearable become somehow bearable. That makes a difference not only for the individual cared for by the hospice but for all those around them.

Let me turn to Devon specifically. Devon does reflect the national picture, with NHS palliative and end of life services such as a specialist NHS team, community nursing care and a Marie Curie night care service. I mention that because some people may think of hospices as the sole provider end of life care in any community. The picture is broader than that, but of course hospices are important. Indeed, NHS Devon has grant arrangements with four Devon hospices that operate in-patient beds. In East Devon specifically, patients can receive end of life care in hospital, at home, in a care home, or from Hospiscare or Sidmouth Hospice at Home, to which my hon. Friend referred.

In England, integrated care boards are responsible for the commissioning of end of life and palliative care services to meet the reasonable needs of their local populations. As part of the Health and Care Act 2022, palliative care services were specifically added to the list of services that an ICB must commission, reflecting the importance of end of life and palliative care in our healthcare system. Adding that will ensure a more consistent national approach and support commissioners in prioritising palliative and end of life care. In July 2022, NHS England published statutory guidance on palliative and end of life care to support commissioners with that duty. That includes specific reference to ensuring that there is sufficient provision of specialist palliative care services, hospice beds and future financial sustainability.

I acknowledge that hospices, like many organisations—and indeed households—are having to contend with financial pressures including rising energy costs. That is why charities including hospices have already benefited from the energy bills discount scheme, which provides a discount on high energy bills and is running until 31 of March 2024. Hospices may also be entitled to a reduction in VAT from 20% to 5%. In addition to that, in 2022 NHS England released £1.5 billion in additional funding to ICBs to provide support for inflation. ICBs were able to distribute that funding according to local need. It was therefore an option for them to support palliative and end of life care providers, such as NHS contracted hospices, with rising costs from inflation.

I recognise the financial challenges that hospices continue to face and the difficulty there is in raising funds from local communities when people themselves are facing pressures with the cost of living. My hon. Friend made a clear case for the financial support that the hospice in his area deserves. I encourage him to continue to argue that point. It is good to hear that he has been in touch with his local integrated care board, which is the organisation responsible for assessing palliative care needs in his community and ensuring that the need is met.

My hon. Friend is not the first Member to ask to meet me to discuss this topic, or to call a debate on it. I am working to increase the transparency and the information available to colleagues and our constituents, so that they can be assured about the provision of palliative and end of life care. To that end, I have organised a meeting next week with representatives from NHS England, and have invited Members from across the House to attend it, for an update on palliative and end of life care and to ask questions directly of NHS England on this topic.

I have welcomed the opportunity this evening to talk about the wonderful work of hospices not only in Devon but across the country. I assure my hon. Friend and other Members present that I am committed to supporting hospices to continue what they do so well in our communities, and to improving access to palliative and end of life care for people across the country, whether that care is given by a hospice or by the national health service.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We are so lucky to have the hospice movement, including St Catherine’s and Derian House in my constituency.

Question put and agreed to.

NHS Dentistry

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Tuesday 9th January 2024

(5 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I inform the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Building an NHS Fit for the Future

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Monday 13th November 2023

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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As I said a moment ago—let me remind the hon. Lady of this—we are not waiting for legislation in order to bring forward mental health reforms. That is why, for instance, we have already been rolling out mental health support teams in schools. We are already ahead of schedule on that; we are giving a quarter of England’s school and college children access to mental health support teams a year ahead of schedule. In addition, thanks to this Government, dormitory accommodation for mental health patients will soon become a thing of the past.

It has been a pleasure to work with the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Cambridgeshire (Steve Barclay), and a huge honour to work with my hon. Friends the Members for Colchester (Will Quince) and for Harborough (Neil O'Brien) as part of a Government taking the long-term decisions to build a health and care system for the future, one with more doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physios and care workers, better mental healthcare for adults and children, more proactive care in the community, greater capacity, the newest technology and more choice, where conditions are diagnosed quicker or prevented altogether, thus helping people to live longer and healthier lives.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

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Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting
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I am very grateful to the hon. Member for his intervention. I am deeply concerned about the situation facing children with cystic fibrosis in particular, given that there is radically life-extending treatment available that offers the hope to those young people not just of longer, happier, healthier lives, but of reduced admissions to hospital. It is right that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence makes those judgments in a rigorous way, looking at the evidence. I hope that it will be successful in bringing down the price of those drugs by negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies to make sure that we can get affordable drugs to families who desperately need them and are desperately anxious that the announcement they have read about means shorter lives for their children. No family should go through that agony, and I hope that a resolution can be found.

The Government and the previous Health Secretary got into the habit of stealing Labour’s policies—I say that not as a complaint, but as an invitation. It is clear that the Government do not have a plan to cut NHS waiting lists, but we do: £1.1 billion will be paid straight into the pockets of hard-pressed NHS staff to deliver 2 million more appointments a year at evenings and weekends, paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status, because patients need treatment more than the wealthiest need a tax break—[Interruption.] Conservative Members groan when we mention charging non-doms their fair share, they groan when we talk about closing private equity loopholes and they groan when we talk about taxing private schools fairly. They did not groan when taxes went up on working people. They did not groan when benefits were cut for the poorest people.

We know who the Conservatives are in it for. They are in it for the few; we champion the interests of the many. That is the Labour difference. We believe strongly that people who live or work in Britain should pay their taxes here too. There is still time for the new Secretary of State to lobby the Chancellor ahead of the autumn statement. This genuinely is an oven-ready plan, unlike some of the plans we have heard from the Conservatives, and I encourage the new Secretary of State to nick it.

After 13 years, we have an NHS that gets to people too late. We have a hospital-based system geared towards late-stage diagnosis and treatment, which delivers poorer outcomes at greater cost. We have an analogue system in a digital age. We have a sickness service, not a health service, with too many lives hampered by preventable illness and too many lives lost to the biggest killers. It could not be clearer: the longer we give the Conservatives in power, the longer patients will wait. This was an empty King’s Speech from a Government who have run out of road, run out of steam and run out of ideas; a Conservative party too busy tearing itself apart to govern the country; a Prime Minister who cannot decide whether it is time for a change or to go back to year zero.

The future of the NHS after another five years of the Tories is emerging before our eyes: a two-tier health service, where those who can afford it go private, and those who cannot are left waiting behind—our NHS reduced to a poor service for poor people; our country viewed as the sick man of Europe. It does not have to be that way. The Prime Minister was right when he said,

“It’s time for a change”,

but only Labour can deliver it.

Labour has a different vision for our country in which no one fears ill health or old age; people have power, choice and control over their own health and care; the place people are born, or the wealth they are born into, does not determine how long they will live or how happy their lives will be; patients benefit from the brightest minds developing cutting-edge treatments and technology; and children born in Britain today become the healthiest generation that ever lived.

Only Labour has a plan to get the NHS back on its feet and make that vision a reality: a plan to cut waiting lists, delivering 2 million more appointments a year; a rescue plan for NHS dentistry, delivering 700,000 more appointments, recruiting dentists to the areas most in need, introducing toothbrushing for three to five-year-olds in schools and having an NHS dentist for all who need one; a plan to double the number of scanners so that patients are diagnosed earlier; a plan to recover our nation’s mental health from the damage of lockdowns; a plan to cut red tape that ties up GPs’ time, so that we can bring back the family doctor; a plan for the biggest expansion of NHS staff in history—a plan so good that the Government adopted it and gave us a head start; and a plan to reform the NHS to make it fit for the future. To those who say that that cannot be done and that things cannot be better, I say this: the last Labour Government delivered the shortest waiting times and the highest patient satisfaction in history. We did it before and we will do it again.

It is not a change of faces we need but a change of Government. It is time to call a general election and give the British people the choice: more of the same with the Conservatives or a fresh start with Labour. Call a general election now, so that Labour can give Britain its future back.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - -

We come now to a maiden speech, so there will be no interruptions. I call Steve Tuckwell.

Steve Tuckwell Portrait Steve Tuckwell (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker, for calling me to deliver my maiden speech. Many words have been dedicated to this summer’s by-election campaigns and the subsequent result in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, so I hope you will allow me to add just a few more words based on my own experiences, rather than the conjecture offered by many commentators.

Let me begin with ULEZ—the ultra low emission zone—and its expansion across outer London. It will come as no surprise to anyone that this is not the first time I have mentioned those four letters in this Chamber. Even though the extended charge zone has now come into being, I stand here—no longer the local candidate, but the Member of Parliament—still determined to fight the Mayor of London’s money grab and reduce the burden placed on my residents and local businesses.

For me, however, the by-election was about much more than ULEZ and its unnecessary expansion. It was about a variety of local issues, such as securing a new hospital, keeping Uxbridge police station open, providing further support for childcare places, and protecting our green spaces for future generations. It was a by-election campaign fought on multiple local issues of substance. So, rather than dwelling on ULEZ, may I suggest that what also drove residents to the polls was the motivation to have an MP who understands the needs of the community, who appreciates the complexities of the community, and who is truly embedded in the community?

Since 2018, I have served as a local councillor for the London Borough of Hillingdon. Hillingdon Council is well respected, and in some cases even envied, for its consistent year in, year out performance in core services that residents expect, be they weekly waste collections, which are quite rare these days; refurbishing libraries, not closing them; and being one of the greenest boroughs in London, with 67 green flag awarded parks and open spaces. All of this and more is achieved through Hillingdon Council’s continual focus on sound financial management that puts residents first. I pay tribute to the leader of Hillingdon Council, Councillor Ian Edwards, and his executive cabinet, as well as Sir Ray Puddifoot—the former leader for over two decades—my fellow councillors, both past and present, and of course the officer team and frontline teams across all departments who deliver great services for their residents and my constituents.

During the by-election, Uxbridge and South Ruislip saw intense campaigning, with a media frenzy and a whopping 17 candidates, but being the centre of attention is not something new for my constituency. Uxbridge is home to the Battle of Britain Bunker—one of the most popular heritage destinations in my constituency for visitors near and far. The bunker played a key part in the allied defensive network across Britain during the second world war, and it was from that bunker that No. 11 Fighter Command was controlled. No. 11 Fighter Command, based in Uxbridge, played a crucial role in securing victory during the battle of Britain. Indeed, it was at the entrance to the bunker that Winston Churchill first uttered his famous words,

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

He repeated those profound words in this very Chamber four days later, on 20 August 1940.

A bunker mentality was right for that time, but now is not that time. This is a time not to hunker down and hide away, but to face the many complex challenges that face us here in the UK and across the globe. The Prime Minister, the Government and my party are quite rightly looking at the long term, and have outlined clear and decisive policies that are designed to tackle the challenges we face. They are not easy decisions, but decisions that build on the long-term horizon, rather than easy short-termism that has no foundation or substance. I was elected to stand up for the interests of my constituents. I was born and raised in the constituency that I now have the privilege of serving as an MP.

A number of years ago—probably a few more than I would care to admit—I was born at Hillingdon Hospital. The hospital holds a special place in my heart: my children were born there, and there have been plenty of visits and treatments for myself and my family over the years. I pay tribute to the entire team at Hillingdon Hospital, past and present, as they continue to demonstrate exceptional professionalism and dedication to the surrounding communities. Much has been said about the condition of our hospital, some of it rather harsh and sensationalist in the heat of by-election campaigning. With that in mind, I am incredibly proud of the work that has been completed as part of the delivery of a new hospital for Hillingdon. Thanks to the combined efforts of all involved, including the local NHS trust and Hillingdon Council, work has begun on delivering that new hospital.

I pay a specific tribute to my predecessor, Boris Johnson, for his tireless efforts in support of Hillingdon Hospital during his time as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. He campaigned continuously for the funding to be secured and for the project to become a reality. That was one of many local campaigns that Boris championed across the constituency, and I thank him for his dedication in supporting many businesses, charities and community groups. While developing a new hospital is a large and complex project, I look forward to working with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that we can deliver long-term positive health outcomes and a state-of-the-art new hospital for my constituents.

To be stood here among these historic and world-famous green Benches is a great honour. It is incredibly humbling to follow in the footsteps of John Randall, who back in 1997 also became MP for Uxbridge as a result of a by-election. I am incredibly thankful for his advice and support on my journey to becoming an MP, and I hope to achieve as much as he did when he represented Uxbridge and South Ruislip. To be the Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip—the place where I was raised, where I have worked and where I live—representing friends, neighbours and strangers alike is a true honour. Immediately after the by-election, my work as an MP started: meeting some of the many faith and cultural groups that make Uxbridge and South Ruislip such a vibrant place to live, and visiting many local businesses that help keep residents in good, decent jobs and contribute to keeping our high streets bustling.

I thank the Hillingdon chamber of commerce for its engagement so early on. It is clear that we share the goal of supporting our businesses and keeping our community thriving, as well as encouraging other businesses to set their roots in our local economy. There are some fantastic businesses from small, home-based entrepreneurs and medium-sized exciting businesses such as Mills Ltd in Cowley, which is supporting gigabit infrastructure through the supply of essential tools and equipment, to a number of large national and international businesses such as Coca-Cola, Hertz and Brunel University, which all create employment opportunities for local people.

One of my priorities for Uxbridge and South Ruislip is to support business and promote our high streets. I am looking forward to taking this further through building on the work this Government have already done to protect businesses against the pressures of the cost of living. This includes a tax cut for 38,000 British pubs earlier this year through the Brexit pubs guarantee, and to ensure that our fantastic local pubs—like my local, the Middlesex Arms in South Ruislip—remain at the centre of the communities they have helped for many years. [Interruption.] A pint tonight, yes!

As I have already mentioned, much has been written about the by-election campaign. Even though local issues ultimately won over attempts to frame it with a national outlook, I want to take this opportunity to declare that I will be a Member of Parliament for all residents regardless of how or if they voted. I am incredibly proud of Uxbridge and South Ruislip and its civic pride from our active community-focused residents’ and volunteering groups to our dynamic, hard-working charities such as the Daniella Logun Foundation, which does amazing work to help children and their families with brain tumours and in raising awareness of childhood cancer.

As I have already said, we are a truly vibrant community, and through my priorities—they include a new Hillingdon hospital, securing even more police officers, protecting our green spaces, delivering improved special needs provision, supporting local businesses and improving our high streets—I stand here ready and determined to do all I can as a Member of Parliament to ensure that my community remains a great place to live, a great place to raise a family, a great place to work and a great place to grow to grow old in.

Mr Speaker, as I am sure you are aware, old habits die hard, so as a former postie, I will continue to deliver for the people of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Thank you.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the SNP spokesperson.

Osteoporosis

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Thursday 26th October 2023

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Royal Assent
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I have to acquaint the House that the House has been to the House of Peers where a Commission under the Great Seal was read, authorising the Royal Assent to the following Acts:

Online Safety Act 2023

Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023

Energy Act 2023

Non-Domestic Rating Act 2023

Procurement Act 2023

Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023

Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023.

Oral Answers to Questions

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Tuesday 17th October 2023

(8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Maria Caulfield Portrait Maria Caulfield
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I was going to pay tribute to the hon. Lady for her work on mental health campaigning, and she will know we have done a huge amount. The suicide prevention strategy is a cross-Government piece of work, which makes sure suicide is everyone’s business, not just that of health and social care. Whether by supporting families bereaved by suicide or rolling out mental health support schemes in schools, it is this Government who are delivering on mental health services.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - -

I call the shadow Minister.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare (Erith and Thamesmead) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The House of Commons Library says there has been no statistically significant change in the rate of suicides in England since 2015. Suicide remains the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK. Why has it taken so long for the Government to bring forward a strategy, and why do they continue to drag their feet over reform to the Mental Health Act? Can the Minister give the House a firm timetable today?

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Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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It is always a pleasure to visit my hon. Friend’s constituency. He highlights a good illustration of how the national programme is working, backed with that £700 million of funding. We are closely monitoring the estate and, where RAAC mitigation is required, that work is taking place. He brings a good example of that to the House’s attention.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Karin Smyth Portrait Karin Smyth (Bristol South) (Lab)
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Not only are the hospital buildings crumbling after 13 years of neglect, creating huge capacity challenges; it seems that those still standing do not have enough beds. As we heard from The Times this morning, the number of

“hospital beds…has fallen by almost 3,000 since ministers promised 5,000 before winter”.

It feels pretty much like winter to me. Is that just another broken promise?

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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You can respond sitting down if you wish.

Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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It is fine; thank you, Mr Speaker.

Since Brexit, we have more than 13,000 more doctors and 48,000 more nurses working in the NHS in England, and 40,000 more full-time equivalent staff in adult social care. Our points-based immigration system means that we can recruit the talent we need from all over the world for our health and social care system, including from the European Union.

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Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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We have the health and social care visa, which supports our health and social care services to recruit doctors, nurses and other professionals, as well as social care staff, helping to boost those numbers. The hon. Gentleman referred to the important NHS workforce long-term plan, which will increase the home-grown staff in our health service. That will give us 60,000 more doctors, 170,000 more nurses and 70,000 more allied health professionals in our NHS over the next 15 years.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Amy Callaghan Portrait Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
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It has been reported that the Home Secretary plans to tighten the rules for those arriving on a health and care worker visa, to block most from bringing dependents with them—yet another in a long list of her vendettas against children coming to these isles. What recent assessments has the Secretary of State made of how that will impact international recruitment and capacity in our already struggling health and care services?

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Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond
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I am grateful to the Minister for that offer, because that would have been part of my question.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Then you don’t need to ask it.

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond
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But in true style, Mr Speaker, I was hoping for two bites at the cherry. [Laughter.]

In my recent discussions with the management of St George’s Hospital, one concern about the consultation is that the specialist paediatric cancer surgical unit based at St George’s may be lost if the current proposal goes through. That would potentially affect real outcomes for a number of children. Will the Minister have a look at that and explain to me whether he is concerned about the current scoring by the NHS?

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Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
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My hon. Friend has made a good point about the importance of transparency and accurate data. As she said, just this week we learnt that Labour-run NHS Wales had been under-reporting its A&E waiting times. According to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, about 45,000 patients are missing from the data. While we are working hard to improve services in the NHS in England, the Labour-run NHS in Wales is merely fudging the figures.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
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The whole purpose of integrated care systems is to join up social care and NHS services in a better way. We know, for example, that fracture liaison services keep 100,000 people out of hospital, but only 50% of English NHS trusts have them, and despite the commitment given by the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care—the hon. Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield—to providing more, nothing has happened, and Lord Evans has walked back from her commitment. I realise that I am pushing at an open door in directing this question to a Minister whose leg is strapped up, but when will the Government finally deliver for the “back better bones” campaign to help older people to survive and thrive?

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Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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Through that £240 million, we have 100% adoption from GP practices that want to take part in receiving those funds and putting digital telephony in place if they have not already done so. This includes call-back, which allows people to know where they are in the queue, and links to online booking, which allows us to maximise the 31,000 additional roles that we have put into primary care so that people can see the specialist that they need. In my hon. Friend’s own integrated care board, appointments for July increased from 768,000 last July to 816,000 this July, so more patients are being seen, more appointments are taking place and more tech investment is going into the practices in his area.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab)
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To listen to the Secretary of State, you would think it was all going so well, so let me give him a reality check. In Tamworth last year, only a third of patients said it was easy to get through to their doctor on the phone, one in three GP appointments were not conducted face to face and fewer than half of patients were offered a choice of appointment. The Government are not listening to the people of Tamworth. Perhaps the Secretary of State would like to explain to the people of Tamworth why, after 13 years of Conservative Government, this is the case, and better still, adopt Labour’s plan to cut red tape, incentivise continuity of care and bring back the family doctor.

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Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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He is right that we are taking both long-term and short-term actions. A key part of the long-term workforce plan is to boost the number of dentists being trained. In the more immediate term, earlier this year we made legislative changes that give the General Dental Council the flexibility to improve the way professionals are registered, giving more flexibility in terms of the skills mix and, for example, tripling the number of people sitting part 1 this year, so that more overseas professionals can be recognised and qualified to practise in the UK.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab)
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In Mid Bedfordshire last year, 165 children—[Interruption.] I do not know why Government Members are laughing; perhaps they should listen, as it is not our party that has let down the people of Mid Bedfordshire. Last year, 165 children in Mid Bedfordshire had teeth removed due to tooth decay. Some 800 patients were forced into A&E for the same reason and 100,000 people across the region cannot get access to an NHS dentist. Instead of laughing, the Government might like to adopt Labour’s plan to provide 700,000 extra dentistry appointments every year.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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Since 2010, we have had 6.5% more dentists, a quarter more appointments and, as we have just touched on, increasing flexibility in regulation and boosting overseas recruitment. It is striking that one area of the country that the shadow Secretary of State does not want to talk about is Wales, which has a record of what a Labour Government will deliver. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition says that he wants Wales to be the “blueprint” for what the NHS would be in England. There, this week, we have seen a fiddling of the figures on health. Even without that fiddling, we know people are twice as likely to be on a waiting list in Wales as in England—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. One of us has got to sit down and it is not going to be me. I let you have a good crack at the beginning, Secretary of State. Your opening statement took quite a long time, which I do not mind. I do not mind your having a go about Wales, but I am certainly not going to open up a debate between the Government and Opposition Front Benches. Topical questions are for Back Benchers and about short questions with short answers. I want it to be kept that way, so please understand that. There must be too many by-elections, because Members are getting carried away.

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting
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It is not just Mid Bedfordshire. Across the country, the No.1 reason children aged six to 10 are admitted to hospital is tooth decay. Given that, will the Secretary of State at least adopt the modest measure that Labour has proposed to introduce national supervised tooth brushing for small children—low cost, high impact—to keep their teeth clean and keep children out of hospital?

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Will Quince Portrait The Minister for Health and Secondary Care (Will Quince)
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My right hon. Friend has long championed this cause. I hope it is good news that I am able to confirm that enabling works have recently been approved for the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust hospital transformation programme and are expected to commence this financial year. I can also confirm that funding has been provided for the development of the full business case and is expected to be submitted in the coming months.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Amy Callaghan Portrait Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
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New research by UNICEF UK has made clear how badly the cost of living crisis has hit the mental health of families with young children. Rising prices and services gutted by austerity have left 60% of parents feeling overwhelmed, anxious, unsupported and lonely all or most of the time. What representations has the Secretary of State made to his Cabinet colleagues ahead of the upcoming autumn statement to support families and to improve health outcomes?

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Neil O'Brien Portrait Neil O’Brien
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My hon. Friend is right. The amount of NHS dentistry being delivered in his ICB has gone up in the last year, but we want to go further. The NHS has recently commissioned additional children’s orthodontic capacity within his ICB, but through the actions we are going to take, we will go further.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Judith Cummins with the final question.

Judith Cummins Portrait Judith Cummins (Bradford South) (Lab)
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Having 100% fracture liaison services coverage in England would prevent an estimated 74,000 fractures, including 31,000 hip fractures, over five years. Will the Minister finally commit to 100% FLS coverage across England?

Countess of Chester Hospital Inquiry

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Monday 4th September 2023

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Steve Barclay Portrait The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Steve Barclay)
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With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the crimes of Lucy Letby.

On 18 August, as the whole House is aware, Letby was convicted of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six others. She committed these crimes while working as a neonatal nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016. As Mr Justice Goss said as he sentenced her to 14 whole life orders, this was a

“cruel, calculated and cynical campaign of child murder”

and a

“gross breach of the trust all citizens place in those who work in the medical and caring professions.”

I think the whole House will agree it is right that she spends the rest of her life behind bars.

I cannot begin to imagine the hurt and suffering that these families went through, and I know from my conversations with them last week that the trial brought these emotions back to the surface. Concerningly, that was exacerbated by the fact the families discovered new information about events concerning their children during the course of the trial.

Losing a child is the greatest sorrow any parent can experience. I am sure the victims’ families have been in the thoughts and prayers of Members across the House, as they have been in mine. We have a duty to get them the answers they deserve, to hold people to account and to make sure lessons are learned. That is why, on the day of conviction, I ordered an independent inquiry into events at the Countess of Chester Hospital, making it clear that the victims’ families would shape it.

I arranged with police liaison officers to meet the families at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss with them the options for the form the inquiry should take, and it was clear that their wishes are for a statutory inquiry with the power to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath. That is why I am confirming this to the House today.

The inquiry will examine the case’s wider circumstances, including the trust’s response to clinicians who raised the alarm and the conduct of the wider NHS and its regulators. I can confirm to the House that Lady Justice Thirlwall will lead the inquiry. She is one of the country’s most senior judges. She currently sits in the Court of Appeal, and she had many years of experience as a senior judge and a senior barrister before that. Before making this statement, I informed the victims’ families of her appointment, which was made following conversations with the Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General.

I have raised with Lady Justice Thirlwall the fact that the families should work with her to shape the terms of reference. We hope to finalise those in the next couple of weeks, so that the inquiry can start the consultation as soon as possible. I have also discussed with Lady Justice Thirlwall the families’ desire for the inquiry to take place in phases, so that it provides answers to vital questions as soon as possible. I will update the House when the terms of reference are agreed and will continue to engage with the families.

Today, I would also like to update the House on actions that have already been taken to improve patient safety and identify warning signs more quickly, as well as action that is already under way to strengthen that further. First, in 2018, NHS England appointed Dr Aidan Fowler as the first national director of patient safety. He worked with the NHS to publish its first patient safety strategy in 2019, creating several national programmes. Those included requiring NHS organisations to employ dedicated patient safety specialists, ensuring that all staff receive robust patient safety training and using data to quickly recognise risks to patient safety. Last summer, to enhance patient safety further, I appointed Dr Henrietta Hughes, a practising GP, as England’s first patient safety commissioner for medicines and medical devices. Dr Hughes brings leaders together to amplify patients’ concerns throughout the health system.

Secondly, in 2019, the NHS began introducing medical examiners across England and Wales to independently scrutinise deaths not investigated by a coroner. Those senior doctors also reach out to bereaved families and find out whether they have any concerns. All acute trusts have appointed medical examiners who now scrutinise hospital deaths and raise any concerns they have with the appropriate authorities.

Thirdly, in 2016, the NHS introduced freedom to speak up guardians, to assist staff who want to speak up about their concerns. More than 900 local guardians now cover every NHS trust. Fourthly, in 2018, Tom Kark KC was commissioned to make recommendations on the fit and proper person test for NHS board members. NHS England incorporated his review findings into the fit and proper person test framework published last month. It introduced additional background checks, the consistent collection of directors’ data and a standardised reference system, thus preventing board members unfit to lead from moving between organisations.

Finally, turning to maternity care, in 2018 NHS England launched the maternity safety support programme to ensure that underperforming trusts receive assistance before serious issues arise. Also since 2018, the Government have funded the national perinatal mortality review tool, which supports trusts and parents to understand why a baby has died and whether any lessons can be learned to save lives in the future. Furthermore, the Government introduced the maternity investigations programme, through the Health Safety Investigation Branch, which investigates maternity safety incidents and provides reports to trusts and families. In 2020, NHS England’s Getting It Right First Time programme was expanded to cover neonatal services. It reviewed England’s neonatal services using detailed data and gave trusts individual improvement plans, which they are working towards. Indeed, Professor Tim Briggs, who leads that programme, has confirmed that all neonatal units have been reviewed by his programme since 2021.

Let me now turn to our forward-facing work. We have already committed to moving medical examiners to a statutory basis and will table secondary legislation on that shortly. It will ensure that deaths not reviewed by a coroner are investigated in all medical settings, in particular extending coverage in primary care, and will enter into force in April.

Secondly, on the Kark review, at the time the NHS actively considered Kark’s recommendation 5 on disbarring senior managers and took the view that introducing the wider changes he recommended in his review mitigated the need to accept that specific recommendation on disbarring. The point was considered further by the Messenger review.

In the light of evidence from Chester and ongoing variation in performance across trusts, I have asked NHS England to work with my Department to revisit this. It will do so alongside the actions recommended by General Sir Gordon Messenger’s review of leadership, on which the Government have already accepted all seven recommendations from the report dated June last year. This will ensure that the right standards, support and training are in place for the public to have confidence that NHS boards have the skills and experience needed to provide safe, quality care.

Thirdly, by January all trusts will have adopted a strengthened freedom to speak up policy. The national model policy will bring consistency to freedom to speak up across organisations providing NHS services, supporting staff to feel more confident to speak up and raise any concerns. I have asked NHS England to review the guidance that permits board members to be freedom to speak up guardians, to ensure that those roles provide independent challenge to boards.

Fourthly, the Getting it Right First Time programme team will launch a centralised and regularly updated dataset to monitor the safety and quality of national neonatal services.

Finally, we are exploring introducing Martha’s rule to the UK. Martha’s rule would be similar to Queensland’s system, called Ryan’s rule. It is a three-step process that allows patients or their families to request a clinical review of their case from a doctor or nurse if their condition is deteriorating or not improving as expected. Ryan’s rule has saved lives in Queensland, and I have asked my Department and the NHS to look into whether similar measures could improve patient safety here in the UK.

Mr Speaker, I want to take the first opportunity on the return of the House to provide an update on the Essex statutory inquiry. In June, I told the House that the inquiry into NHS mental health in-patient facilities across Essex would move forward on a statutory footing. Today, I can announce that Baroness Lampard, who led the Department of Health’s inquiry into the crimes of Jimmy Savile, has agreed to chair the statutory inquiry. I know that Baroness Kate Lampard will wish to engage with Members of the House and the families impacted, and following their input I will update the House on the terms of reference at the earliest opportunity.

The crimes of Lucy Letby were some of the very worst the United Kingdom has witnessed. I know that nothing can come close to righting the wrongs of the past, but I hope that Lady Justice Thirlwall’s inquiry will go at least some way towards giving the victims’ families the answers they deserve. My Department and I are committed to putting in place robust safeguards to protect patient safety and to making sure that the lessons from this horrendous case are fully learned. I commend this statement to the House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.