Parliamentary update – March 2023

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This month has seen a debate on workforce expansion, questions about London hospital capacity and discussion of GP to patient ratios.

NHS Workforce Expansion Debate  

28 February, read or watch in full. 

Wes Streeting (Lab: Ilford N) – Shadow Secretary of State highlighted declining GP to patient ratios, declining overall GP numbers and his belief that patients should be able to choose between phone and face-to-face appointments. He also made some general points around workforce training, recruitment and retention and called on the Government to resolve the junior doctors’ strike. 

Catherine West (Lab: Hornsey and Wood Green) raised A&E capacity at North Middlesex Trust. 

Helen Whately (Con: Faversham and Mid Kent) – Minister for Social Care responded to Mr Streeting, including pointing out how the Government is expanding clinical services in pharmacies to ease pressures on GPs. 

Dr Philippa Whitford (SNP: Central Ayrshire) said Mr Streeting was wrong to denigrate the value of phone consultations provided by GPs and called on the Government to make it easier for doctors from overseas who are training as GPs in the UK to remain in the country after qualification. 

Fleur Anderson (Lab: Putney) mentioned A&E capacity at St. George’s Trust. 

Bambos Charalambous (Lab: Enfield, Southgate) noted that all national cancer targets were missed in at least one month in 2022.  

Questions to the Department of Health and Social Care  

7 March, read or watch in full. 

Theresa Villiers (Con: Chipping Barnet) welcomed an increase in patient care staff in GP practices in my constituency, and asked for the taxation of GPs’ pensions to be fixed.  

Dr Kieran Mullan (Con: Crewe and Nantwich), Layla Moran (Lib Dem: Oxford West and Abingdon), and Robert Courts (Con: Witney) all asked about increasing the number of primary care staff. Steve Barclay (Con: NE Cambridgeshire) – Secretary of State responded by saying the government are on track to recruit 26,000 ARRS staff. 

Following up, Dr Mullan suggested that NHS111 is not directing patients to see the wider healthcare team in primary care. In his answer, the Secretary of State raised his desire for the GP service to be the front door it has become in the NHS.  

Sir Christopher Chope (Con: Christchurch) stated that one third of the activity that takes place in GP surgeries could be transferred to pharmacies. The Secretary of State said he is looking at what more pharmacies could do in the primary care recovery plan.  

David Simmonds (Con: Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) raised the new Hillingdon hospital. 

Rupa Huq (Lab: Ealing Central and Acton) highlighted health inequalities. Neil O’Brien (Con: Harbrough) – Minister for Primary Care pointed out extra funding on drugs and obesity, and increased taxes on cigarettes and sugar. 

House of Commons: New legislation 

The Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill has begun its passage through parliament. The bill will make provision about information standards for health and social care.  

House of Commons: Westminster Hall 

  • On 28 February, Wera Hobhouse (Lib Dem: Bath) led a debate on Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Click to read in full.
  • On 14 March, Nicola Richards (Con: West Bromwich E) led a debate on the future of cancer care. Click to read in full.

House of Commons: Health and Social Care Committee 

  • On 7 March, the committee held an oral evidence session on cancer services. The session can be watched here.
  • On 14 March, the committee held an oral evidence session on digital transformation in the NHS. The session can be watched here.
  • On 21 March, the committee held an oral evidence session on NHS dentistry. The session can be watched here.