Hospital Alert

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th March 1988.

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Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington 12:00 am, 8th March 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received from the organisation Hospital Alert over the last three months on the question of the National Health Service.

Photo of Mrs Edwina Currie Mrs Edwina Currie , South Derbyshire

I believe that a petition was presented to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

Is the Minister aware that Hospital Alert represents the authentic voice of men and women throughout the country? [Interruption.] Not the Labour party — Hospital Alert represents everyone, irrespective of political persuasion. How does the Minister respond to the millions of Conservative supporters throughout the country who do not want substantial tax reductions next week? They want part of the money that is available to the Treasury to be spent on developing the National Health Service. How does the Minister respond to those Conservative supporters?

Photo of Mrs Edwina Currie Mrs Edwina Currie , South Derbyshire

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I understand that Hospital Alert is supported financially by the London borough of Hounslow, which, despite being rate-capped this year, managed to find money to give to that campaign. However, we take such campaigns seriously. My PPS, my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess), booked the Grand Committee Room to meet those people in a lobby recently, and 17 people turned up. As for the hon. Gentleman's question about the Budget, we shall have to wait until next week.

Photo of Mr Jacques Arnold Mr Jacques Arnold , Gravesham

When considering Hospital Alert, will my hon. Friend reflect on the fact that a great delegation from my constituency on the matter of Hospital Alert consisted of two constituents, and that the delegation to our hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) consisted of one petitioner?

Photo of Mrs Edwina Currie Mrs Edwina Currie , South Derbyshire

Nevertheless, as my hon. Friend is aware, we take seriously all the points made by his constituents and by the constituents of all other hon. Members. We are putting a great deal more money into the Health Service and are employing a record number of nurses this year. We hope that we will be able to pay them better when the review body has reported.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Livingston

Among the representations on the NHS, has the Under-Secretary of State seen the letter from Dr. Mitchell of Scarborough hospital, which scores highest on her Department's performance indicators? Has she noted the conclusions of all the consultants at that hospital, that the rate at which they are expected to discharge patients was "positively dangerous", and Dr. Mitchell's observation: it is easy to appear efficient if one is underfunded and understaffed"? Does not that letter from the hospital which, by her own standards, is the most efficient, demonstrate why we want more funds for the NHS before more tax cuts for the wealthy?

Photo of Mrs Edwina Currie Mrs Edwina Currie , South Derbyshire

I have certainly seen the letter in the press. I know that the doctor sent it to the press. We take all such representations seriously. However, I should point out to the hon. Gentleman that the hospital service is not the entire Health Service and that, with the support of many Opposition Members, including the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith), we are moving to reform the primary care services as well. In that way we think that we can relieve the pressures on the hospitals.