Many people have contacted me about the future funding of the NHS.
I believe fully in the NHS and its values, and I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to a tax-funded NHS, free at the point of use, wherever and whenever you need it. As Ministers plan a new relationship with the EU, the Government will continue to ensure that the NHS is given the priority and stability it deserves.
Despite tight public finances, the Government has actively supported the NHS' own plan for the future. That is why it is providing the additional £10 billion of investment per annum in real terms by 2020/21 - compared to 2014/15 - requested to fund a transformation in care. This will allow the NHS to offer 800,000 more operations and treatments and spend up to £2 billion more on new drugs. It will also ensure that by 2020, everyone will be able to access GP services at evenings and weekends.
The Government is integrating and improving health and social care to protect people at every stage of their lives. Local authorities will be given greater powers so they can raise up to £2 billion by the end of this Parliament for adult social care through the introduction of a social care precept. This will be supported by making extra funds available for local government from 2017, rising to £1.5 billion by 2019/20 and to be included in the Better Care Fund. This will ensure that spending on social care will have risen in real terms by the end of this Parliament and protect the most vulnerable in society.
The Government has committed to unprecedented levels of mental health funding, including £1.25 billion for perinatal and children and young people's mental health, helping professionals to intervene early. To support teenagers with eating disorders, the Government has also invested £150 million.
The NHS will earmark an extra £2.4 billion a year for GP services by 2020/21, a 14 per cent real terms increase. Overall investment in primary medical care includes a £500 million Sustainability and Transformation package to help GP practices add to the workforce and tackle workload.
On top of this, to secure the best value for taxpayers, the Government has introduced tough new financial controls to cut down on waste in the NHS, including introducing caps for agency staff and management consultants, and introducing central procurement rules. The Government has also introduced a £1.8 billion Sustainability and Transformation Fund in 2016/17 to support providers to move to a financially sustainable footing.
Thank you again to all those who took the time to contact me about this issue.
Many people have contacted me about NHS STPs and A&E departments.
The NHS today helps more people to receive higher quality care than ever before. The Government is backing the NHS with an additional £10 billion per annum investment by the end of this Parliament and the employment of record numbers of doctors and nurses.
Nonetheless, the NHS faces substantial challenges, and only a Conservative Government, which knows how to build a strong economy, can possibly help meet these through a combination of increased financial commitment and bold reforms.
I recognise the important role played by A&E departments across the country. I know the NHS is under pressure, and to ensure the best standards of care in the future we need an updated system which even better prioritises GP access, cancer care and mental health treatment. The NHS is using sustainability and transformation plans to help deliver this change. No decisions have been made and none will occur without local consultation.
The Five Year Forward View, produced by the NHS itself, sets out its own vision for the future. Its vision is one where the NHS provides more care closer to home, prioritises prevention and empowers citizens with the tools and information to manage their own care.
In each of 44 local areas, commissioners, providers and local authorities have come together to decide how to improve services and realise this vision. Far from being secret, STPs were publicly announced by NHS England in December 2015. These plans are not about making cuts, but to ensure that increased resources for the NHS lead directly to better care for patients. STPs were submitted to NHS England on 21 October and they are now being scrutinised. A more formal process of local consultation is expected to begin later this year. The plans will then be published with full public engagement and consultation and no changes to the services people currently receive will be made without this. Furthermore, the Government is committed to ensuring full transparency and accountability about how the plans are being implemented.
I have met with the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group on a number of occasions to discuss their plans, and have recently spoken to Ministers about the state of Musgrove Park Hospital. I am committed to ensuring that the NHS continues to provide a brilliant service to the residents of Taunton Deane.
Thank you again for all those that took the time to contact me.