Oral Answers to Questions

John Bercow Excerpts
Tuesday 29th October 2019

(11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department of Health and Social Care
Caroline Dinenage Portrait Caroline Dinenage - Hansard

I certainly could not have put that more articulately than my right hon. Friend did, and he is absolutely right. In 2018, the Government provided contracts worth more than £25 million to help children with special educational needs and disability to access the right support. The Department for Education is reviewing the SEND commitment within that Department, but we are supporting it to do that in the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that children get the care and support and educational support plans that they need.

Mr Speaker Hansard

We all noted the reference to Dickens; I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman’s record of literary and philosophical allusions continues apace.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I thank the Minister for the response so far. Will she outline what discussions have taken place with independent groups such as Specsavers, which does excellent work providing wider access to NHS-funded tests and hearing aids, with special reference to more rural areas?

Break in Debate

Lord Austin of Dudley Portrait Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Ind) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 11:42 a.m.

If the Minister and other Members want to find out how to provide a phenomenal audiology service, they should come to Dudley and visit the clinical CCG buildings at Brierley Hill. It is an amazing service. When I was referred to them for a hearing aid, I could not believe the service. You ring up and say “When can I come in?”, and they say “When would you like to come in?” “Could I come in tomorrow?” “What time would you like to arrive?”—no waiting lists, an absolutely phenomenal service. I was worried—

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 11:42 a.m.

I call the Minister.

Lord Austin of Dudley Portrait Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Ind) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 11:40 a.m.

I was worried that I was getting special treatment because I was the MP, but I was not; it is just an absolutely fantastic service, and I want to commend the brilliant men and women who provide it. It would be great if the Minister came to see them.

Break in Debate

Edward Argar Portrait Edward Argar - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 11:43 a.m.

My hon. Friend is a doughty champion for his constituents and his trust, and he is absolutely right.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Not just a champion but doughty!

Siobhain McDonagh Portrait Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden) (Lab) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 11:43 a.m.

This plan could see two A&Es reduced to one and two maternity units reduced to one. Have the Government taken into account the need for extra capital funding for both St George’s and Croydon university trust should St Helier place this new hospital on the Sutton Hospital site?

Break in Debate

Caroline Dinenage Portrait Caroline Dinenage - Hansard

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning that brilliant initiative. I think we will probably be falling over ourselves to volunteer to do the honours, but I would be very happy to put myself forward for that.

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 11:58 a.m.

Not least due to the charm and courtesy of the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman), quite apart from the magnificent facility that he has just been busily championing.

Sir Vince Cable (Twickenham) (LD) Hansard

The Minister will know that her colleague, the Justice Secretary, has declined to proceed with a call for evidence on the sensitive issue of assisted dying. Would it not be appropriate for her Department to gather evidence from the professional bodies involved in end-of-life care, to ensure that legislation is evidence-led?

Break in Debate

Caroline Dinenage Portrait Caroline Dinenage - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:10 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman plays down his role in this agenda; he has been a great champion for social prescribing. All of us in the Department’s Front-Bench team have met people for whom social prescribing has been life changing; it has totally changed the way they are able to deal with their symptoms and illnesses. It really is a massive game changer.

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:09 p.m.

But of course modesty is the right hon. Gentleman’s middle name.

Lord Vaizey of Didcot Portrait Mr Vaizey - Hansard

And humility.

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Indeed.

Stephanie Peacock Portrait Stephanie Peacock (Barnsley East) (Lab) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:10 p.m.

With one in three arthritis sufferers missing out on at least one prescription due to cost, what can the Minister say to the pensioner in Barnsley who has had their pension cut, lost their local bus service and now lost out on the treatment that enables them to simply walk down the street? Is it not time the Government matched Labour’s promise, and invested in pensions, services and free prescriptions on the NHS?

Break in Debate

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Hansard

We are switching to routine commissioning from April. It is a deep frustration of mine that some local authorities are not putting in place the necessary measures. I will look into Manchester in particular; I did not know about that example. I personally set the goal of our being HIV-free by 2030. I am delighted that, with the support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth North (Penny Mordaunt) when she was the Minister for Equalities, we have made the progress that we have. I have absolutely no doubt that there is further road to travel and that we should all come together in support of equalities in health provision, especially in this area. I look forward to working with the hon. Lady and all those who are on the side of trying to make this change happen.

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:22 p.m.

I call Tommy Sheppard. Where is young Sheppard? [Interruption.] He has withdrawn. I was not advised of that. Never mind, he is a most active beaver in the Chamber in normal circumstances. It does not matter that he is not here, because Mr Andrew Rosindell is.

Sir David Amess Portrait Sir David Amess (Southend West) (Con) - Hansard

Speak for Romford!

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:22 p.m.

Yes, speak for Romford. Well done.

Andrew Rosindell Portrait Andrew Rosindell (Romford) (Con) - Hansard

13. What progress his Department has made on providing NHS services seven days a week. [900205]

Break in Debate

Ms Nadine Dorries Portrait Ms Dorries - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:25 p.m.

It is a delight to take a question in my first Health questions from my right hon. Friend and constituency neighbour. If he pops into Shefford pharmacy, I am sure that Jamil will give him a flu vaccine as he walks through the door because Jamil does not require anybody to wait; anyone who wants a vaccine can have one—think pharmacy first. We are also ahead on flu vaccines for pensioners compared with last year. As my right hon. Friend articulated, it is crucial that those in the at-risk groups are vaccinated first to protect themselves this winter. We are targeting patients through the “Help Us, Help You” campaign, which highlights the impact of flu on those who are most at risk, and we are ahead of our targets from last year.

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:25 p.m.

Order. We are running late, but I will take a one-sentence question from Gareth Thomas.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

The three walk-in centres that provide a seven-day-a-week service in my constituency are closed or closing. Why?

Break in Debate

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) - Hansard

I note the recent announcement of the roll-out of the electronic prescription service. How will that benefit my constituents? When will it be rolled out, and how can my constituents use it to support their local community pharmacy?

Mr Speaker Hansard

Preferably in a sentence—Jo Churchill.

Jo Churchill Portrait Jo Churchill - Hansard

Digitising the process by using electronic prescribing will save the national health service up to £300 million, freeing up vital time for GPs and pharmacists to spend with their patients. It will start on 19 November.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Splendid.

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP) - Hansard

T5. The Government have finally completed their consultation on mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid. When can we finally expect to see that eminently sensible policy implemented? [900222]

Break in Debate

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:34 p.m.

That is an incredibly important matter. It was addressed in the Care Act 2014, but I am happy to look at any proposals, because it is important that we get fair treatment right across the country.

Mr Speaker Hansard

I ask Members for one-sentence questions from now on.

Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:34 p.m.

Does the Health Secretary agree with the joint report produced by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee that the best way to fund adult social care is through a social care premium?

Break in Debate

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:40 p.m.

I am of course engaged with the Treasury on this, but I would also say that these flexibilities are available right across the country and they must be used by trusts.

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:41 p.m.

We are all grateful to the national health service, but I know that the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire) has spoken movingly of the particular debt of gratitude he owes to the institution.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup) (Con) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:41 p.m.

I am delighted to echo that again in the context of the fact that next month, November, is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. I ask my right hon. Friend to commend the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and all those who are highlighting the signs of this disease to save lives, quite literally, because of the need for early diagnosis. Equally, could he update the House on the lung health checks programme, which is targeted screening that could quite literally save lives from this terrible disease?

Break in Debate

Ms Nadine Dorries Portrait Ms Dorries - Hansard

I am happy to help and to meet the hon. Lady to talk about that. No primary care mental health services should be cutting given the amount of funding we are putting in, but I am happy to meet and discuss it with her.

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:44 p.m.

I must say to the hon. Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess) that my kids think he is a great bloke because he made an effort to go and talk to them at my party last week. He will always be a hero in their eyes.

Sir David Amess Portrait Sir David Amess (Southend West) (Con) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:45 p.m.

Does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State share my concern that a highly paid health executive has been made redundant by Southend clinical commissioning group, given £200,000 and then employed somewhere else in the organisation? Disgraceful.

Break in Debate

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Hansard

On the contrary. I was in Southport last month and I saw the fantastic staff and what they do. I was able to talk to them about the improvements that we are planning in Southport. People in Southport and across the country know that unless we have a strong economy we cannot fund a strong NHS. The Labour party’s plans for the economy would sink it. Only with a strong Conservative Government can we have a properly funded NHS.

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:47 p.m.

I say to the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) that when we stood against each other in Conservative student politics in 1986, I was the candidate of the right and he was the candidate of the left. Some things change over the years.

Mr Mark Francois Portrait Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:48 p.m.

Mr Speaker, you won. Although we have not agreed on everything in the 18 years I have been in the House, I say most earnestly, from one midget to another, that I wish you a long and happy retirement.

Following the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess), I point out that the individual he mentioned moved from being the accountable officer of the Southend CCG to the accountable officer of the Thurrock CCG. It was a sideways move for which he trousered a fifth of a million pounds of public money, which should have been spent on patients. Do not just cap the payment, sir, make him pay it back.

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Hansard

Again, we have the powers in primary legislation to claw back contractual redundancy payments. Nobody is keener to ensure the careful expenditure of taxpayers’ money than my right hon. Friend. The matter has been raised very powerfully by the voices of Essex in this question time.

Mr Speaker Hansard

I am sorry, but we have way overrun. Demand exceeds supply on these occasions—by the way, that is true in the health service under Governments of both colours—but we will take one more question.

Emma Hardy Portrait Emma Hardy (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) (Lab) - Hansard

I was very distressed to learn last week that a higher than average number of people in Hull are having foot amputations, partly because of diabetic foot ulcers and despite excellent work by the vascular department. The message from that department is that it is underfunded, under-resourced and in desperate need of an infrastructure upgrade to its theatre. Time is running out, so instead of asking the Secretary of State to meet me, will he just act very quickly to give it the funding it needs to stop unnecessary amputations happening in Hull?