I am proud to be part of a Government that is doing so much to support the work of the NHS. The NHS budget will have increased by £33.9 billion by 2023/24, including a £2.3 billion uplift for mental health services and £4.5 billion for primary and community services, including new Primary Care Networks (PCNs). This landmark investment is the longest, largest funding settlement in the history of the NHS and will help to secure the long term future of our NHS.
I cherish our National Health Service and its guiding principles: that it is universal and free at the point of need. The Government has been repeatedly clear that our NHS will never be on the table in any trade agreements, a position I fully support.
Free trade is a driver of economic growth which can raise incomes, create jobs, and lift people out of poverty, which is why I am glad that outside of the EU the UK will be able to strike new trade agreements with countries across the globe. But more trade should not come at the expense of the high levels of quality and protection enjoyed in our country.
The UK will continue to ensure that the NHS is protected in all trade agreements it is party to, whether transitioned from an EU context or as a result of new negotiations. Indeed, outside of the EU, rigorous protections for our NHS will be maintained and included in any future trade agreement to which our country is party.
I want to be clear that the NHS will be protected in any future trade agreement with the US. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table, and nor will the services the NHS provides.
The NHS is something to be valued and protected which is why I support the commitment to properly funding the NHS. Since 2010 the NHS budget has increased every year, and I am happy to say that despite challenging financial circumstances, this will continue via the aforementioned funding increase through until 2023/4.