West Norfolk MP joins call for health group to be established

Sir Henry Bellingham
Sir Henry Bellingham

The MP for North West Norfolk is calling on the Prime Minister to set up a Parliamentary Commission on funding for Health and Social Care.

Sir Henry Bellingham is among a cross-party group of 98 MPs who have written to Theresa May asking her to consider taking this action.

Sir Henry said: “The Commission would be, in effect, a special Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament taking an independent, cross party approach to an issue of national importance.

“It would help to break the political deadlock that has prevented a realistic approach to increasing resources for health and social care.

“It could examine current demand and funding needs but also take a long term view, including the value of improving prevention in order to improve wellbeing and reduce future costs.

“Here in Norfolk, one of the biggest issues currently facing the NHS is how we join up Health and Social Care.

“Given the work that is going on at the moment with the Norfolk & Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) chaired by the former health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, and the work they are doing on social care now could be an historic opportunity for this very bold approach.

“My Norfolk colleague, Norman Lamb MP, who is a former social care minister is an expert on this.

“We both take the view that although additional funds are going to be welcome and important, and whilst a 10 year funding settlement for the NHS is needed, what we need above all else is this Parliamentary Commission.

“I personally want to see the NHS taken out of politics completely and one way of doing this is to set up a Commission to look at how we could protect future funding.”

Rob Colwell, chairman of the West Norfolk Liberal Democrats group, said: “The Lib Dems have long called for this and I am happy that the Conservatives are now coming on board slowly.

“Politics should be kept away from this to work together to prevent the crisis getting worse.”

But Jo Rust, secretary of the North West Norfolk Labour Party group, said she has concerns as she believes taking the NHS taking out of politics could mean the Government no longer taking responsibility for its challenges.

She said: “I sit on the Labour Party national policy forum for health and social care, as well as seeing daily the impact that eight years of underfunding has done to our NHS.

“I’m not surprised that our MP, a member of the ruling government, wants to take the NHS out of politics because policies he’s voted for have caused such terrible damage to the service.

“Hard-working staff are struggling with a lack of resources, crumbling buildings and increased demand.

“If the NHS were taken out of politics this Government would say the challenges being faced were nothing to do with them, absolving themselves of responsibility and avoiding blame.

“But we must be clear, the struggles currently being faced lay directly at the door of this Government.”