Bill Presented — Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill
Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Labour)
I thank Dr Wollaston and the Backbench Business Committee for securing this important debate. We can see from the number of hon. Members across the Chamber who want to talk about this that it is a valid and timely debate. I also welcome the Minister to her new position in the Health team.
As many hon. Members and the Minister of State will know, community hospitals play a vital role in my constituency; Guisborough hospital and East Cleveland hospital are essential to East Cleveland’s health and well-being. I was privileged to secure an Adjournment debate on the future of community hospitals in the north-east on
With the Health and Social Care Act 2012 causing reorganisation that has cost the local NHS tens of millions of pounds on Teesside alone, it is perhaps not surprising that many trusts appear keen to centralise services to larger hospitals. In my constituency, we have already seen a significant reduction during this Parliament in the services available at Guisborough hospital, with the closure of the Chaloner ward and a reduction in minor injuries provision. Similarly, constituents have told me that they have been unable to receive the services that they need at East Cleveland hospital in Brotton. This is deeply worrying, as more than 50% of my constituency is rural, and I know how constituents without a car can struggle to attend hospitals further away, such as the James Cook university hospital near Marton, Easterside and Park End in the south Middlesbrough part of my constituency.
I know that this problem is unfortunately replicated around the country. In the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust area alone, a district general hospital in Northallerton—the Friarage—and Redcar’s primary care hospital are facing problems due to the centralisation of services. With the reallocation of public health funds as well, which are used primarily for community nursing, we are seeing what I can only describe as a vice-like grip between the reduction in services in community hospitals and the reduction in funding for community nursing, especially for palliative care for elderly and vulnerable people.