I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
the acute problem faced by the staff of the children's hospital, Birmingham, in being able to admit children for major heart surgery.
The matter is specific in that it relates to the position at the children's hospital in Birmingham. It is certainly important in that I understand that more than 40 children in the west midlands require heart surgery at this time in this hospital. However, only five beds are in use in the intensive care unit.
As the House is no doubt aware, Matthew Collier, the four-year-old son of one of my constituents, is to be admitted today to the children's hospital. Hopefully, the operation will be carried out later this week. However, whether it will take place depends on the availability of beds in the intensive care unit. When I visited the hospital on Thursday I was shown around the intensive care unit. Only five beds are in use in that unit, which serves the whole of the west midlands. That is totally unacceptable.
It is understandable that my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-East (M r. Hughes) felt so strongly about this matter that he made his protest today. He wants to ensure that the child of one of his constituents is able to get the surgery performed at Birmingham children's hospital as quickly as possible.
I am sure we all hope that later this week Matthew Collier will have his heart operation, and we all wish him every success for a speedy recovery. How many other children such as Matthew in the west midlands will have to wait sometimes for weeks or months before an operation of this kind can be performed? One can imagine the constant worry of the parents.
The Prime Minister has said:
I want an operation on the day, at the time and with the doctor that I choose.
If that is right for the Prime Minister, why should it not be right for our constituents and for their children? They should be able to have operations on the National Health Service without delay, hassle and publicity. The hospital in Birmingham does a splendid job, and it is wrong that it should have to operate on such a tight financial shoestring.
I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to grant a debate so that the acute problems faced by this hospital in being able to carry out major heart operations on children can be debated in the House. It is of far greater priority that funds should go to such hospitals than to continuing income tax cuts.
The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,
the acute problems faced by the staff of the Children's hospital, Birmingham, in being able to admit children for major heart surgery.
I listened with concern to the hon. Gentleman, but I have to give him the answer that I gave to his hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). I regret that the matter that he has raised is not appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20. However, I hope that he will find other opportunities to bring the matter to the attention of the House.