HC Deb 18 April 1995 vol 258 cc1-2
1. Mr. Dunn

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the amount spent on capital projects within the NHS in England since 1979; and if she will make a statement. [17571]

The Secretary of State for Health (Mrs. Virginia Bottomley)

At current prices, the total NHS capital investment programme since 1979 stands at more than £22.5 billion. In real terms, the capital spending level today is 70 per cent. above what it was in 1979. Over that entire period, a major capital building project has been completed on average every week.

Mr. Dunn

Does the Secretary of State agree that the Government should take the lead in getting private and public finance to work together in health and in other sectors, as was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition last autumn?

Mrs. Bottomley

I am well aware of the Leader of the Opposition's comments last autumn about getting public and private finance to work together. I am far from clear about the policy of the present Opposition health spokesman and her Labour party team. It seems far from clear whether she agrees with her party leader or whether she dances to the tune of union paymasters. It is clear that private finance is bringing extra opportunities into the NHS so that we can build on the excellent capital programme that already exists.

Mr. Kevin Hughes

With the increasing privatisation of the national health service, who will the managers in the NHS ultimately be accountable to—the patients or the shareholders of these companies?

Mrs. Bottomley

The hon. Gentleman knows full well that the NHS is not for profit and is not for sale. The NHS is about progressive improvement in services for patients. More information is available than ever before about the quality and quantity of care that has been provided, to a standard completely unanticipated when the Labour party was in power. The people in the health service deserve credit for that.

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