Caroline Flint MP (Lab) - #nhscommission debate quotes page 1 of 2:

"Today’s NHS bears no comparison with that created some 60 years ago. We need to face up to change and importantly, as part of that, to help people to cope with change, because that can be frightening. We want a better and stronger NHS, but let us also have a smarter NHS. I hope that Government and Opposition Front Benchers will respond positively to the proposal."

 “We have to look at the bigger issues, and that is why I commend the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb), my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester West (Liz Kendall) and the hon. Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Dr Poulter) for securing the debate today.

We have an important role in this House. It is not only about holding this or any Government to account; it is about shining a light on the social problems that our country faces and offering solutions that are not just for one term of a Parliament. The motion helps to highlight an ongoing generational problem and proposes a path to find some sort of solution.

The UK is an ageing society. We are a society growing older. “

This debate is timely because, less than a year on from the general election, none of the big, long-term problems facing the NHS, in particular the integration of social care and the fair funding of social care, is any closer to being resolved. We know that the NHS has always been an election issue, and we should not apologise for that. Nor should we expect that to change in the short term. We know that in the last election and the one before, the problem of funding social care, so that families do not always lose their homes to pay for long-term social care, has been an election issue. I recall in 2010 a Conservative billboard with a tombstone and the message, “Now Gordon wants £20,000 when you die. Don’t vote for Labour’s new death tax.”

I am not going to sound purer than the driven snow on this. Our party has also upped the ante on some of these issues. Yet today, one in 10 of the public can face bills of over £100,000 for social care. It makes a bill of £20,000 deferred seem a pretty attractive deal. But so nervous are Governments of this issue that this Administration have deferred the introduction of a cap on total costs from 2016 to 2020. And the cap is only on costs over £72,000. I do not want to spend time on the merits of the Government’s proposals. Suffice it to say that they are complex. They rely on local authority assessments. They create different thresholds and ceilings for contributions. Coming forward with proposals that are fair to all yet meet need, without unduly penalising those who saved for a lifetime, is not easy; it really is not, and the problems will not be solved by a five-year plan.

The challenge remains to put in place a social care funding system that is fair to people of different income levels, a system that can be embraced by all parties and, crucially, by successive Governments of different colours. For these reasons, I believe that the motion is so right today. We need an independent commission for those big long-term decisions. The same problem applies to some of the other challenges facing the NHS that colleagues have raised today. They include securing long-term funding for the NHS, particularly when successive Governments are rebalancing the Government’s income and expenditure to reduce and then eliminate the deficit and meeting the long-term challenge of demographic change, of the rising sophistication and costs of new medical technologies and of new pioneering treatments. At one and the same time, the potential for new and radical treatments is almost unlimited, but the budgets to meet them are not.

 

 


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