This week the Prime Minister announced major new plans to secure the future funding of the National Health Service. Under the government’s proposals, NHS funding will grow on average by 3.4 percent in real terms each year. By 2023 the NHS England budget will increase by £20.5 billion in real terms compared with today. This extra money will come in part from funds that we currently pay into the European Union as a consequence of our membership, but will no longer do so when we leave. However, some of this additional funding will inevitably need to come from increasing taxes.
Any decision by the government to spend more money should not be taken likely, as this is funding raised by the people and given to the Treasury. However, we have to recognise that the NHS is a special case, as a national institution vital to the needs of people across the country, and of all ages. We know as well that as people live longer thanks to the constant innovation in healthcare treatments, that growing numbers will have more complex needs in late life. This presents a challenge to the NHS, as the demands for its services grow every year. We want the health service to do more than just keep up with demand, but also to invest in innovating the delivery of treatments and in improving patient care. In East Kent, we will also want this extra investment in the NHS to help with recruiting more GPs to work in local surgeries, and to support the delivery of modern community clinics and health centres. It is important that public money is put to the best possible use, and the NHS has made a clear case for this extra investment. The government is right as well to ask people if they would be prepared to make an additional contribution through their taxes to support a service that they value.
Last Friday I was delighted to visit St Mary’s Primary School in Folkestone, to meet the pupils and hear more about the work they have been doing with the British Council. The school was recently presented with the Council’s ‘International School Award’ in recognition of its partnership work with other schools around the world. This provides excellent opportunities for the students to understand more about life in different cultures, through sharing experiences and knowledge.
Earlier in the day, I also visited the team at Brett Aggregates, at their base on Jury’s Gap Road near Lydd. I was interested to hear more about their community work and to visit some of the restoration sites, where they are turning former quarries into lakes, or preparing the land for future agricultural use. We also discussed how Brett’s can monitor the heavy lorries that move large quantities of the aggregates they extract, this includes monitoring how fast they drive, and the ability to check how they drive through cameras on the vehicle. I also raised with them the concerns that have been put to me by people in the local community, about the need to mitigate for the noise and dust created by their extraction work. These are issues that they are constantly working to address.