I share the concerns of the many people who have written to me about the National Health Service. I agree that a comprehensive health service should continue to be provided free at the point of use and that encroaching privatisation of the NHS must be halted. I also believe that there needs to be more investment to provide the NHS and social care with the funding it so desperately needs.
The Government recently confirmed that NHS England expenditure on independent providers has increased by £3.4 billion since 2011/12. At the General Election the Labour manifesto committed to reverse the privatisation of our NHS, return our health service into public control, and repeal the Health and Social Care Act which puts profits before patients. Unfortunately Labour lost the election.
I support the introduction of a new legal duty on the Health Secretary to ensure that excess private profits are not made out of the NHS.
Labour successfully opposed the Government's proposal to sell 75% of NHS Professionals, an effective and successful public body which saves the taxpayer around £70 million a year and ensures that hospitals don't have to rely on expensive private staffing agencies. The Government's plans were met with widespread opposition from NHS staff and patients.
More widely, I am concerned that under this Government waiting lists have topped 4 million and the number of patients spending more than 4 hours in A&E has risen 250%. A report by the British Medical Association revealed that the number of people waiting on trolleys reached the highest level to date in November 2016.
I am committed to protecting and strengthening our NHS and that means stopping the drive towards privatisation and ensuring the NHS is based on collaboration and integration, not on competition and fragmentation.
I will continue to stand up for the NHS in Parliament.