Good Hope hospital is in Sutton Coldfield and Sutton Coldfield is in Birmingham. The Minister should be reminded of that because his constituency is several hundred miles away from the city. We are talking about a major Birmingham hospital that, as the right hon. Gentleman said, serves his constituency, a good part of north Birmingham, the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett), a goodly part of my constituency and the southern parts of Staffordshire.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the issue has not arisen recently. It can be traced back to the 1970s. I was at a major meeting at Good Hope hospital which was attended by about 400 to 500 patients. It took place in about 1977-78. There was a major problem involving the orthopaedic surgeon, whose name escapes me for the moment. He increased the momentum and pressure for change. At the time, there was an horrendous waiting list in north Birmingham. There has been considerable progress since then.
I understand that a debate on the health service is to take place in Birmingham during January. I say to all political parties that will be involved that I want grown-up politics from every one of them. I do not want anyone sailing into Birmingham from my party, the Conservative party or the Liberal party preaching political sloganism. That approach does not help the citizens of Birmingham. We want a dose of grown-up politics in discussing the health service crisis in Birmingham.
The issue is clouded and I support the right hon. Gentleman's argument that an objective look must be taken. The pressure on Good Hope hospital has been accentuated by the closure of the city-centre general hospital. Despite all the reasons for that, which we understand, we have lost several hundred beds in a small district general hospital. That is bound to put pressure on the other district general hospitals.
We know that in recent months there has been a management crisis and a bed crisis at City hospital, Dudley road. That hospital serves a good part of the north and west of Birmingham. That has put further pressure on Good Hope hospital.
At 1.30 pm on 17 January, I was taking a phone call from a constituent. It was about Frances Grew, an 88-year-old lady. She had gone into Good Hope hospital with a major blood circulation problem that was affecting her feet. It so happened that Question Time related to health matters that day. I walked into the Chamber and was called to ask a supplementary question to the second question. I raised the issue of Mrs. Grew and my question appears in column 567. That was probably my quickest response to a constituency case during more than 20 years in this place.
I shall not go into the details of that case, but it related to the time that an 88-year-old lady had had to wait for a bed. She was dumped into a gynaecological ward, which upset her and her family. There had been a wait of five hours. As I have said, I took up the matter in the Chamber and in correspondence. I received letters from the region and the chairman of the trust that runs Good Hope hospital. On 23 March, I was told that the chairman of the trust was hoping for
an improvement in the bed situation in the forthcoming financial year.
In other words, I was told in March that things would be a bit better in 1995-96. Since then, as the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Erdington will confirm, the situation has become far more serious. People are now waiting up to 11 hours on a trolley.
Good Hope hospital is not a mobile army surgical unit. It is taking mobility to extremes when people are expected to wait on trolleys and to be moved around on them to create space for other people. They are moved out of their beds after 11 pm from one ward to another because of the pressure that is created by people entering the hospital.
That situation has not just arisen recently. In the past couple of days, I was contacted by a former constituent, Janet Taylor. She told me what had happened to her husband, Theo Taylor, on 28 October 1991 when, unfortunately, he suffered a stroke at the age of 48 years. He was taken to Good Hope hospital at 11.30 am. He was on a trolley until 7.15 pm. Then it was found that there were no bed sheets in the hospital. They had to go to two other hospitals to get bed linen.
That tells me that there is a problem of management. As the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield also said, I have not had a single telephone call, constituency surgery visit or letter that has ever criticised the nursing staff of Good Hope hospital. It is the management of the hospital that people perceive is wrong. The situation with the beds and the trolleys is not new.