Henry Smith MP speech in the House of Commons debate on the NHS Funding Bill

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)

Order. If Members speak for four and a half minutes or so, everybody will get in.

Henry Smith MP (Crawley) (Con)

I will try to be as quick as possible, Mr Deputy Speaker.

I am grateful to be called in this debate. The mood in this Parliament, since the general election, has been completely lifted compared with the last Parliament, because we are delivering on the promises we made to our constituents—at the end of this week, the promise to deliver their vote for Brexit, but reflecting too the importance that our constituents place on the national health service. I very much support enshrining an increase in funding in law. That £33.9 billion extra by the end of 2024 will go a long way towards ensuring a sustainable health service for the future.

That is in stark contrast to when we had a Labour Government. Crawley Hospital’s maternity unit closed in 2001 and its accident and emergency department closed in 2005. Since 2010, services have been returning. We have a new urgent care centre, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and a new ward with new beds, but ultimately Crawley needs a new hospital because the nearest major hospital, East Surrey, is almost 10 miles away, up congested roads and with poor public transport links. Crawley is the natural population centre, so I would put in a bid to those on the Front Bench for a new Crawley hospital whenever that is possible.

One of the additional challenges we face in Crawley is GP capacity, so I was particularly pleased to hear the Secretary of State talk earlier about the importance of ensuring that more GPs come into our system and about the number of clinicians being recruited. We have a number of surgeries where the lists have been closed, yet we have huge pressure from additional housing, so I am grateful for the focus on that area. I am also appreciative of the focus on mental health provision. Many people come to my surgeries, as they do to those of all hon. and hon. Members, in cases where mental health is an issue, and access to mental health care, particularly for children, can be a particular concern, so continuing with the investment in that area is important. ​Putting mental health on a par with physical health, as we did in the last Parliament, was important, but we need to continue that drive.

Earlier today, I was very pleased to reconstitute the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer. It is a group that I was pleased to set up in the 2015-17 Parliament, and we are now restarting the genomics inquiry that we launched just before the Dissolution of Parliament in November. I encourage Members, and indeed the wider public, to contribute to that. We hope to report later this year.

Briefly, before I finish and allow others to talk about the importance of the NHS in their constituencies, I should say that I was grateful for the Secretary of State’s update on coronavirus and on some of the measures being taken and the resilience being built. Mention was made of flights coming into Heathrow airport from China being individually received and screened. There are also flights from Chinese airports to Gatwick, in my constituency, so I would request that the Secretary of State for Health liaise with the Secretary of State for Transport and others to ensure that similar screening is available there as well.