This month our NHS has marked seventy-five years since it was founded. As we mark the important anniversary of this much-loved national institution, it’s a good moment to reflect on what we are doing now, to ensure that it remains fit for the future.
The NHS currently receives record levels of investment, with record numbers of doctors and nurses working in it. There are over 5,400 more doctors and 12,900 more nurses working in NHS hospitals compared to March 2022, and we’re on track to meet our commitment to recruit 50,000 extra nurses by 2024. At the last general election, we committed to recruit 26,000 more primary care staff by March 2024, but we have already recruited over 29,000 more staff compared to March 2019. These include clinical pharmacists, mental health practitioners, physiotherapists and nursing associates, ensuring our NHS has the staff it needs to deliver for patients.
The government has announced an NHS workforce plan looking ahead to the next 15 years, backed by £2.4 billion, including the largest expansion in training and recruitment in the NHS’ history. We are also investing an extra £45.6 billion in funding for health and social care over the next three years, on top of previously announced increases – boosting staffing and resources and helping to cut waiting lists.
We have doubled the number of medical school places, including the opening of the Kent and Medway Medical School, based at the University of Kent, in Canterbury. Here the next generation of doctors are being educated and trained. As part of our new NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, we are also doubling the number of medical school training places for doctors from 7,500 to 15,000 and investing an extra £1 billion in training medical professionals.
On 30 June, I attended the annual Canada Day service, held at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery at Shorncliffe. This ceremony, where local primary school children place flowers on the graves of soldiers from the First World War, was started in 1917, and has been held every year, except from during the COVID pandemic. Of the 471 First World War graves at Shorncliffe, more than 300 are soldiers from Canada, and we were pleased once again to be joined by a representative from the Canadian High Commission in London to mark the occasion.
I was delighted to join Tony Hogben, the Folkestone and Hythe District Scout Commissioner, also on 30 June, at the Lyminge Scout hall, for an evening of activities involving different groups from across our area. In Folkestone and Hythe we have nine Scout groups, six Explorer units and a Squirrel group, working with hundreds of young people. If you are interested in getting involved, particularly for adults who might be interested in training to be a volunteer scout leader, you can find out more on their website, fhdscouts.org.uk