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Division Details - Lords House of Lords

20:40, 06 September 2017, Division 1: National Health Service (Mandate Requirements) Regulations 2017

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Preamble

Motion to Regret

Pre Vote

My Lords, that is one of the most remarkable speeches I have heard in your Lordships’ House. I have to say that if the Government really think that the NHS is in the healthy position that the Minister says it is, I feel very sorry for them and sorry for NHS patients. Talk to anyone on the front line and they will tell you of the pressures, of the hopelessness of the changes the Government made and of the Brexit impact on staff. The NHS is facing a critical time and to have this litany, this list of so-called achievements, does no good at all to the health service or to the credibility of the Government.

I shall make only two points. The Minister said at the beginning that the Government are still committed to the 18-week target, but towards the end of his speech he quoted the same words as I quoted, which made it clear, as Simon Stevens has made clear and as is made clear in Next Steps on the Five Year Forward View, that actually the Government have given up on the 18-week target this year. They have said that,

“elective volumes are likely to expand at a slower rate than implied”

by the 92% target. That was an open admission that the target is no longer set in stone. Talk to any chair or chief exec in the NHS and ask them whether the 18-week target is a firm target in this financial year and they will say no. Of course the NHS faces pressures. In the days of my noble friend Lord Reid the demographic changes were taking place just as fiercely as they are now, but he made a dramatic impact in reducing waiting times.

My point is this: if the Government believe it is so difficult to manage the health service in such a challenging time, they should be open and honest and say that the target has been taken away; but they have not been honest, they have not been open and patients will suffer. My Lords, I beg to move.

Content - 167

Not Content - 102