It would appear from the reply that the Deputy Prime Minister gave earlier that he has not read or understood today's statement by the British Medical Association. Is the Leader of the House aware that the BMA places the responsibility for the present crisis not just on the shortage of finance and beds but on the perverse operational effects of the internal market, the Government's distortion of clinical priorities through their waiting list initiative, and the failure of the community care programme, which is blocking beds? In short, the BMA says that the Government are responsible.
May I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to early-day motion 248?
[That this House notes with concern that the Greenwich Healthcare NHS Trust cancelled 26 elective non-urgent surgical admissions during the weekend 6th–7th January, that a further eight admissions were cancelled on 8th January and that all non-urgent elective surgery has now been postponed for at least seven days; further notes that the Greenwich Healthcare Trust has experienced a loss of 120 acute beds amounting to 16.37 per cent. of the total between 1993–94 and 1994–95; believes that this pattern is common to other areas of London and shows that London is both under-bedded and under-resourced; and calls upon the Secretary of State to set up an independent inquiry into bed needs and availability in London and an immediate moratorium on hospital and bed closures.] The motion points out that the healthcare trust in my district has had to cancel all elective, non-urgent surgery as a result of the current crisis. Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the request from many hon. Members for a debate on the crisis in the health service to be held as soon as possible?