In response to Lucy's debate on health inequalities and capital health spending, Health Minister Ed Argar MP provided an update on NHS priorities, capital spending, and the controversial Future Fit programme:
- The Minister has confirmed that the original £312 million budget is still in place and that any hospital transformation programme must be costed within this figure.
- £1.1 million has been made available to the Hospital Trust to continue development of the transformation programme.
On Future Fit and its budget:
On my Hon. Friend’s [Lucy Allan MP] second key point about the Future Fit programme more broadly, and the budget available to it, she will be aware that as of this month £1.1 million has been made available to the trust to continue the development of that programme as part of the £6 million-worth of early funding agreed in late 2020. NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to work with her local trust to develop the business case for that programme, and we still wish them to go ahead with it. We want them to work to come up with the right solution for the local community, and we remain committed to that... It will have to follow the usual business case approvals process.
We are clear that the £312 million that my Hon. Friend alluded to remains, as it was at the outset, the maximum amount currently allocated to that programme. It reflects the original allocation and continues to be the allocation, so I encourage her trust to continue working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to develop a scheme and a programme that matches that budget for the benefit of everyone’s constituents in Shropshire and in Wales, who this hospital also serves.
On Lucy's campaigning:
Let me turn to my hon. Friend’s two specific points relating to her health and care system. She highlighted her campaign to retain a 24/7 A&E local in Telford. As she said, in 2019 my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk [Matt Hancock MP] made his decision, which still stands, for the Future Fit programme to proceed, but also, crucially, for an A&E local to be in place in Telford. It is very important that I put this on the record. The success of my Hon. Friend’s Lucy Allan MP] call—the fact that that was agreed to—is down to her campaigning work on behalf of her constituents.
I suspect that without her, it may not have happened. The fact that it has, as I believe was confirmed by my Rt. Hon. Friend the current Secretary of State [Sajid Javid MP] in a letter to her recently, is testament to the success of her campaign, regardless of some of the more misleading views that have been spread around in the course of this process. She has succeeded. She has campaigned for her constituents and she has won on this point, and I pay tribute to her.
You can read the full text of the Minister's speech in Hansard here.