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Corbyn hits out at May over 'distracting' and 'impractical' NHS proposals

Published 23/11/2016

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Theresa May of "looking for excuses and scapegoats" rather than ensuring t he NHS and social care services are "properly" funded.

The Labour leader said proposals to make patients in England show their passports to get some elements of NHS care are designed to be "distracting" but are ultimately "divisive and impractical".

The Prime Minister insisted the Government will spend half a trillion pounds on the NHS between 2015 and 2020, adding that concerns over "health tourism" have existed for many years in the UK.

Mr Corbyn, asking about the passport plans, said to Mrs May: "Has the Government considered the impact of this on elderly people?

"The last census showed that 9.5 million people in this country don't have passports.

"Rather than distracting people with divisive and impractical policies, could you provide the NHS and social care with the money that it needs to care for the people who need the support?"

Replying at Prime Minister's Questions, Mrs May outlined the Government's spending plans for the NHS.

She added: "You ask 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 a concern about health tourism, about people turning up in the UK, accessing health services and not paying for them.

"We want to make sure that those who are entitled to use the services are indeed able to see those free at the point of delivery, that we deal with health tourism and those who should be paying for the use of our health service."

Mr Corbyn reiterated warnings over funding from NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, adding that spending per person is set to be cut.

He told Mrs May: "The (National Audit Office) reported that the cost of health tourism is more than 100 times less than the £22 billion of cuts the NHS is facing from this Government.

"The reality is under this Government there are 6,000 fewer mental health nurses, a record 3.9 million people on NHS waiting lists.

"All of us who visit A&E departments know the stress the staff are under and the waiting times are getting longer and longer, and that there are one million people in this country not receiving the social care they need.

"So instead of looking for excuses and scapegoats, shouldn't 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 over social care, and the stress that is placed on our very hard-working NHS and social care staff?"

Mrs May said billions of pounds of extra cash is being put into social care and a "record level of investment" in mental health services in the NHS.

Speaker John Bercow intervened to warn Labour MPs not to "shout down or attempt to shout down" the PM.

Mrs May, appearing in the Commons ahead of the Autumn Statement, continued to Mr Corbyn: "There's a fundamental point you refrain from mentioning.

"It is this: we can only afford to pay for the National Health Service and social care if we have a strong economy creating wealth - and that's precisely what you're going to hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a few minutes' time."

Mr Corbyn used his six questions to focus on the NHS and social care, which included the Opposition leader urging Mrs May to take action to "stop the neglect of older people".

He said this has left older people being forced to be cared for in A&E rather than in their own home or residential care.

Mrs May replied: "Of course social care is an area of concern and social care is a key issue for many people.

"That's why the Government has introduced the Better Care Fund, that's why the Government has introduced the social care precept for local authorities and we're encouraging the working together of the health service and local authorities to deal with precisely the issues you raised on social care and bed- blocking."

Mr Corbyn said the Government's "choice was to cut social care by £4.6 billion" in the last parliament, adding that this occurred at the same time as finding "the space, shall we say, to cut billions in corporate taxation bills".

He went on: "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."

Mrs May also told the Commons that Health Minister David Mowat will write to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shortly "to look at how we can see to improve what they do".

This came after M r Corbyn questioned the CQC's response to a BBC Panorama investigation aired this week, which he said showed older people in care who were "systematically mistreated".

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