One of the first pieces of domestic legislation debated by this new parliament has been the NHS Funding Bill, which will enshrine in law the Government’s commitment to increase funding for the National Health Service.
This Bill includes a ‘double-lock’ commitment that places a legal duty on both the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care and HM Treasury to uphold this minimum level of NHS revenue funding over the next four years.
After being introduced in the House of Commons in the middle of January, the Bill had its second reading debate last week.
I was pleased to speak in this debate, not only welcoming the Government’s plans to enshrine in law its commitment to increase funding for the NHS, but to call for further improvements to services in Crawley.
Following the last Labour Government’s closure of Crawley Hospital’s maternity unit in 2001 and A&E in 2005, we have seen services returning over the last decade.
While the new Urgent Care Centre is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; as the natural population centre for the area, Crawley needs a new hospital – in no small part due to the time it can take to get to East Surrey. This is my call to the Government front bench.
A further issue needing attention is that of GP capacity; it often takes too long for Crawley residents to get seen at their local surgery.
The Government have confirmed that by 2024-25 6,000 more GPs and 6,000 more primary care professionals will be delivered, allowing 50 million more GP appointments to take place and therefore reducing the time that patients are left waiting. This needs to result in benefits for Crawley residents.
During the debate, the Health & Social Care Secretary reiterated that the Bill will help to pay for the prevention, detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease, so more than 100,000 strokes and heart attacks can be prevented. Before the General Election I chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heart & Circulatory Diseases and I welcome the Government’s continued commitment to support patients in this regard.
Henry Smith MP