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NHS Trusts

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 16th October 1991.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Livingston 3:30 pm, 16th October 1991

On the contrary. The hon. Gentleman's problem is that the public do not believe him.

The Secretary of State quoted the Freeman hospital in Newcastle as a success story. He cannot be aware that yesterday that hospital's top heart surgeon said that there should be an end to trusts, the market is essentially inefficient, and the NHS is being systematically privatised. That, from the very hospital that the right hon. Gentleman quotes as a success story.

In the face of all the evidence from the first wave, how can the Secretary of State justify taking the risk of putting 99 other hospitals into the same unproven market? Would it not be much more responsible to halt the second wave until the right hon. Gentleman has worked out answers to some of the problems that arose in the first wave?

Is the Secretary of State aware that he himself has ensured that most comment will focus not on the hospitals that he has included but on the four London hospitals that he has put in the deep freeze? Does he concede that his inquiry into London health services is an admission that the market in health care has not made any London hospital more efficient but has made them all more insecure? Will he explain to the House, and particularly to those right hon. and hon. Members who represent constituencies outside London, why it is wrong to go ahead with trusts inside London this year, but right to press ahead everywhere but London—except perhaps in Kincardine and Deeside?

As the Secretary of State for Scotland will not be coming to the Dispatch Box today, can the Secretary of State for Health say when the Government will make up their minds on the application from Aberdeen—an application so unpopular that not even the Conservatives' own by-election candidate dares to support it? Or do the Government hope to get the election over first, before coming clean with the people of Kincardine?

Before the Secretary of State proceeds to ignore all my questions and reads out his prepared text of party abuse —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Conservative Members do not like the truth —will the Secretary of State at least address his mind to a constitutional question? How can the right hon. Gentleman, in the fag end of this Parliament, invite hospital managers and health staff to go through the upheaval in the next six months of preparing for trust status when the Government know that every other party will oppose it in the election that must follow?

The Secretary of State has just repeated the discredited health policies of a Government living on borrowed time. They will be the first policies to be reversed by the Labour Government that will replace them.