JEREMY CORBYN



Jeremy Corbyn | Prime Minister’s Questions | 23 November 2016

Filed under: Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs)

Questions to the Prime Minister

Jeremy Corbyn

The Government’s sustainability and transformation plans for the National Health Service hide £22 billion of cuts to our service, according to research by the British Medical Association. That risks

“starving services of resources and patients of vital care.”

That quote comes from Dr Mark Porter of the BMA. When he calls this process “a mess”, where is he wrong?

 

The Prime Minister

The National Health Service is indeed looking for savings within the NHS which will be reinvested in the NHS, and I remind the right hon. Gentleman that it is this Government who are providing not just the £8 billion of extra funding that the NHS requested, but £10 billion of extra funding. Sustainability and transformation plans are being developed at local level in the interests of local people by local clinicians.

 

Jeremy Corbyn

It is very strange that the Prime Minister should say that, because the Select Committee on Health, chaired by her hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), says that the figure is actually £4.5 billion, not £10 billion; there is quite a big difference there.

Part of the reason for the strain on our national health service is that more than 1 million people are not receiving the social care they need. As a result of that, there has been an increase in emergency admissions for older patients. Margaret wrote to me this week—[Interruption.] It is not funny. She described how her 89-year-old mother suffered two falls leading to hospital admissions due to the lack of nursing care, and went on to say,

“My mother is worth more than this.”

What action will the Prime Minister take to stop the neglect of older people, which ends up forcing them into A&E admissions when they should be cared for at home or in a care home?

 

The Prime Minister

Of course social care is an area of concern, and it is a key issue for many people. That is why the Government have introduced the better care fund and the social care precept for local authorities, and why we are encouraging the health service and local authorities to work together to deal with precisely the social care and bed blocking issues that the right hon. Gentleman has raised.

We have introduced the better care fund and the social care precept, but let us just look at what the Labour Government did in their 13 years. They said that they would deal with social care in their 1997 manifesto. They introduced a royal commission in 1999, a Green Paper in 2005 and the Wanless review in 2006. They said they would sort it in the comprehensive spending review of 2007, and produced another Green Paper in 2009. Thirteen years, and they did nothing.

 

Jeremy Corbyn

As the Prime Minister well knows, health spending trebled under the last Labour Government and the levels of satisfaction with the health service were at their highest ever in 2010. This Government’s choice was to cut social care by £4.6 billion in the last Parliament, at the same time as they found the space, shall we say, to cut billions from corporate taxation bills. This is affecting patients leaving hospital as well. In the last four years, the number of patients unable to be transferred from hospital due to the lack of adequate social care has increased by one third. Will the Prime Minister ensure that her Government will guarantee all our elderly people the dignity they deserve?

 

The Prime Minister

I recognise the importance of caring for elderly people and providing them with the dignity they deserve. The right hon. Gentleman says that this Government have done nothing on social care, but I repeat that we have introduced the social care precept, which is being made use of by my local authorities and by his local authority. We have also introduced the better care fund. He talks about support for elderly people, but let me remind him which Government it was who put in place the triple lock for pensioners. That has ensured the largest increase in pensions for elderly people.

 

Jeremy Corbyn

The precept is a drop in the ocean compared with what is necessary for social care. I shall give Members an example. I am sure the whole House will have been appalled by the revelations in the BBC’s “Panorama” programme this week. They showed older people being systematically mistreated. The Care Quality Commission’s assessment is that the care homes run by the Morleigh Group “require improvement”, and it has issued warning notices. The commission goes on to say that the owner

“has allowed the services to deteriorate even further. She has utterly neglected her duty of care to the residents of these homes.”

What action are the Government going to take to protect the residents of those homes?

 

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman raises the issue of the quality of care that is provided in homes and the way in which elderly people are treated. I am sure everybody is appalled when we see examples of poor and terrible treatment being given to elderly and vulnerable people in care homes. What we do about it is ensure that the Care Quality Commission is able to step in and take action and that it has powers to ensure that nobody in the chain of responsibility is immune from legal accountability. We know that there is more that can be done, and that is why the CQC is looking into ways of improving its processes and increasing its efficiency. The Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington South (David Mowat), the Minister for community health and care, will be writing to the CQC shortly to see how we can improve what it does. It is the CQC that deals with these issues, and we have that in place. Is there more we can do? Yes, and we are doing it.

 

Jeremy Corbyn

The problem seems to be that that home was understaffed. We should not blame often underpaid and hard-pressed care workers; we should be ensuring that there are enough of them—properly paid— in all such homes. There was a serious problem of understaffing, and it was the last Labour Government who established the CQC. A warning notice is insufficient —we need stronger action than that.

Yesterday, the Government proposed that patients may have to show passports or other ID to access non-emergency healthcare. Have the Government considered the impact on elderly people? The last census showed us that 9.5 million people in this country do not have passports. Instead of distracting people with divisive, impractical policies, could the Prime Minister provide the NHS and social care with the money that it needs to care for the people who need the support?

 

The Prime Minister

Over this Parliament, the Government will be spending half a trillion pounds on the National Health Service. The right hon. Gentleman asks about a process to ensure that people who are receiving NHS treatment are entitled to receive that NHS treatment. For many years, there has been concern about health tourism and about people turning up in the UK and accessing health services but not paying for them. We want to ensure not only that those who are entitled to use the services are indeed able to see them free at the point of delivery, but that we deal with health tourism and those who should be paying for the use of our health service.

 

Jeremy Corbyn

Simon Stevens told us two weeks ago that the next three years will be the toughest ever for NHS funding and that 2018 would see health spending per person cut for the first time ever in this country. The National Audit Office has reported that the cost of health tourism is over a hundred times less than the £22 billion of cuts that the NHS faces from this Government. The reality is that under this Government there are 6,000 fewer mental health nurses and a record 3.9 million people on NHS waiting lists. All of us who visit A&E departments know the stress that staff are under and that waiting times are getting longer and longer. One million people in this country are not receiving the social care that they need. Instead of looking for excuses and scapegoats, should not the Prime Minister be ensuring that health and social care is properly resourced and properly funded, to take away the stress and fear that people face in old age and the stress that is placed on our very hard-working NHS and social care staff?

 

The Prime Minister

Billions of pounds extra into social care through the social care precept and the better care fund; half a trillion pounds being spent on the National Health Service; a record level of investment in mental health in the national health service—[Interruption.]

 

Mr Speaker

Order. Members must not shout down or attempt to shout down the Prime Minister. The question has been asked and was heard, and the answer must be heard.

 

The Prime Minister

There is a fundamental point that the right hon. Gentleman refrains from mentioning: we can afford to pay for the national health service and for social care only if we have a strong economy creating wealth, and that is precisely what he is going to hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a few minutes’ time.

 

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