Health and Care Bill

Many constituents have contacted me about the Health and Care Bill. Improving local healthcare is one of my absolute priorities as your MP, so this Bill is particularly important to me.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us how vital our NHS is to all of us. The pandemic underlined not only the dedication and skill of those in the health and care sectors, but also the necessity of a broader, more integrated health and care system. I want to assure you that the NHS will always be free at the point of use, and any proposed reforms will aim to continue to improve the quality of services and patient outcomes.

The Health and Care Bill serves as a framework to join the NHS and social care together. We need joined up, integrated care between the NHS, Local Government and other partners including the voluntary and community sector, which will be vital in tackling the factors that affect the long-term sustainability of patient services. The Bill will make permanent some of the innovations brought about by the pandemic. These proposed reforms will also include proper accountability mechanisms and give patients and the public the confidence that they are receiving the best care from their healthcare system. 

The measures set out in the Health and Care Bill deliver on the NHS’s own proposals for reform in its long-term Plan. These proposals have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders in this sector, and I am encouraged by the preliminary positive feedback received. The former Chief Executive of NHS England said that this Bill “will support our health and care services to be more integrated and innovative so the NHS can thrive in the decades to come.”

The Government has offered a clear commitment to supporting the NHS and our wider healthcare system. The Government will provide the NHS with £33.9 billion in funding by 2023/24, which is the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS, and is confirmed in law by the NHS Funding Act. In addition, the NHS Long Term Plan commits £4.5 billion in primary and community care to help strengthen local healthcare networks. I am doing everything I can to ensure that as much of this funding as possible comes to the people of Southend West.

I wholeheartedly support the Government's commitment to recruit 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 new GPs, and 6,000 more primary care professionals in addition to the 7,500 further nurse associates and 20,000 primary care professionals announced previously. These commitments are vital to ensuring our NHS is fit for the long term. Further, the NHS Long Term Plan focuses on retaining staff by ensuring that they are well supported and able to develop their own careers; this ethos will underpin all planning for the NHS workforce.

The Bill is currently before the House of Lords for their consideration and will return to the House of Commons in due course. I look forward to scrutinising the changes that have been made and have taken into account all of the points that constituents have raised with me.