The NHS is a vital and important service which this Government is committed to protecting and improving. The NHS will always be free at the point of use, and any proposed reforms will aim to continue to improve the quality of these services and patient outcomes.
The Government has made 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.
As we build back better from this pandemic, it is right and necessary that our health and care services are at the forefront. The pandemic underlined not only the dedication and skill of those in this sector, but also the necessity of a broader, more integrated health and care system. I welcome the intention to develop more 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. I understand that 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.
I believe these proposals have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders in this sector, and I am encouraged by the preliminary positive feedback received. In particular, the comments from Nigel Edwards, the Chief Executive of the health policy think tank the Nuffield Trust, that these proposed reforms would allow GPs, hospitals, community services and social care to “work better and more effectively together” in the longer term are reassuring.
It is irresponsible scaremongering to suggest that ICSs are being used to support privatisation, or cuts to NHS funding. The NHS will always be free at the point of use, and I believe these reforms will continue to improve the quality of NHS services and outcomes for patients.