Royal Liverpool University Hospital
Simon Burns (Minister of State (Health), Health; Chelmsford, Conservative)
I begin by congratulating Mrs Ellman on securing this debate on the future of the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust. I know of her long-standing support for the rebuilding of the Royal Liverpool hospital and it is apparent, just from looking at the number of Labour Members from Liverpool who are here today, that they are showing their interest in and concern about the provision of health care services in their constituencies and in the broader area of Liverpool and the Wirral.
I also pay tribute to the NHS staff across the whole of Liverpool, who do such an incredible job of caring for hon. Members' constituents throughout the city and the surrounding area. Those members of staff do a fantastic job, day in and day out, with little recognition or thanks from people. I want to place on record my gratitude for their tremendous work and that of NHS staff in the rest of the country.
Before I come to the specifics about the Royal Liverpool hospital, I would like to set out the Government's approach to the reconfiguration of local NHS services mentioned by the hon. Lady as part of her argument. I believe passionately that local decision making is essential to improving outcomes for patients and driving up quality. This Government will do more than just talk about pushing power to the local level; we will actually do it.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has identified four crucial tests that all reconfigurations must pass. First, they must have the support of GP commissioners. Secondly, arrangements for engaging patients and the public, including local authorities, must be further strengthened. Thirdly, there must be greater clarity about the clinical evidence base underpinning any proposals. Fourthly, any proposals must take into account the need to develop and support patient choice. To be clear, that means that forced hospital closures that do not have the support of GPs, local clinicians, patients and the local community should not occur.