Protection of the NHS workforce is “at the heart” of the Prime Minister’s Brexit negotiations, the Northern Powerhouse Minister said, as he promised that the Government was committed to major investment in the health service.
During a visit to Leeds where he backed plans for two new hospitals in the city centre, Jake Berry insisted that people are still being enticed to forge careers in the NHS despite thousands of vacant positions.
The Minister told The Yorkshire Post that he was confident the new hospitals would be able to draw on enough manpower and government investment to thrive in the future, and that the only “missing piece of the jigsaw” to realise his Northern Powerhouse ambitions for Leeds was a West Yorkshire devolution deal.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is one of six trusts nationally to get a share of £2.bn to build new hospitals by 2025. A “state-of-the-art” adults’ hospital in Leeds will have new operating theatres for day case procedures and added critical care facilities, and it will be next door to a new children’s hospital.
Mr Berry, who visited Leeds General Infirmary to hear more about the plans, said: “The NHS is at the heart of British society, funding it is this Government’s commitment and we can see that with these two brand new hospitals.
“The Government has committed to investing more in the NHS and just today 90 new members of staff have started here in this hospital, the majority of whom were nurses. That shows that people are wanting to start a great career in the NHS.”
About 65,000 NHS staff in England are EU nationals - 5.5 per cent of its workforce - and Mr Berry insisted the new
hospitals will be properly resourced.
“This government’s ambition is to get a deal when we leave the European Union on the 31st of October. We are making great progress on that,” he said.
“The Prime Minister is leading negotiations and... ensuring hospitals can keep their workforce up to force will be at the heart of those negotiations because we are the Government (that is) investing in the NHS, we are the Government that is committing £600m to building these two new hospitals in Leeds.”
He said the hospitals would create “well-paid, globally competitive” jobs as part of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse ambitions but, he added:
“What I would say is the missing piece of the jigsaw here... is a devolution deal and that’s why I’m so pleased that we are starting to make progress about a West Yorkshire devolution deal.”
The whole of the North of England will benefit from the two new hospitals in Leeds, according to NHS trust boss Julian Hartley.
“The benefits of this funding will be far-reaching as Leeds is a renowned centre for specialist services, providing treatment and care for patients from across the region, the North of England, and in some instances, the rest of the UK,” said Mr Hartley, chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
The funding for Leeds is part of the Government’s Health Infrastructure Plan which is set to provide capital investment for the NHS in England over the course of the next decade.