NHS Funding

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th May 1991.

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Photo of Mr Robert Jones Mr Robert Jones , Hertfordshire West 12:00 am, 14th May 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the real growth in capital spending in the national health service since 1979.

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

Gross capital expenditure in the national health service in England has grown by 62 per cent. in real terms since 1978–79.

Photo of Mr Robert Jones Mr Robert Jones , Hertfordshire West

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he confirm that it includes more than £40 million-worth of new capital investment in the North Hertfordshire district health authority area? Those projects are well appreciated by those who live in the areas concerned, especially as the projects were cancelled by the Labour Government.

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

My hon. Friend is right in his figures and in drawing a favourable comparison between our record and that of our predecessors. In the past 12 years, capital investment has increased by 62 per cent. in real terms while under the Labour Government it decreased by 16 per cent. in five years.

Photo of Mr Gerry Bermingham Mr Gerry Bermingham , St Helens South

Does the Minister agree, that as he knows all too well, in the St. Helen's and Knowsley hospitals area investigations show that capital and other funding has always been undercut? Now that we have hospital trusts—both hospitals have opted out—are we to understand that the hospitals will get no more capital and that there is no hope of our ever having the capital that we should have had over the past 15 years?

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

The hon. Gentleman has not quite caught up with the Leader of the Opposition. The funding argument is over. The Labour party is clearly on the record as saying that an incoming Labour Government would have no new money for the national health service. The question that the hon. Gentleman asked me is one that he should put equally to the Opposition Front Bench.

Photo of Mr Anthony Grant Mr Anthony Grant , Cambridge South West

Does my hon. Friend agree that while, we welcome the additional resources that have been made available in the eastern region, in formulating hospital policy big is not necessarily beautiful? I cite, for example, the unsatisfactory proposal to move the world famous Papworth hospital into the already over-large Addenbrooke's hospital.

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that big is not necessarily beautiful. In designing future NHS provision, it is important to ensure that it meets the identified needs of patients. That is the priority that we have established through the establishment of the purchaser-provider split. We have ensured that it is the principal responsibility of the new health authorities.