NHS Trusts (Running Costs)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wale – in the House of Commons at 1:52 pm on 18th June 1997.

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Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Labour, Cynon Valley 1:52 pm, 18th June 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the running costs of NHS trusts in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [2603]

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Welsh Office

The Government believe that, within the constraints imposed by the need to manage a complex organization, management and administrative costs should be reduced to the minimum possible. We are committed to ensuring that savings can be identified and used for patient care; NHS trusts will contribute their share. In so doing, we have already announced the suspension of the extension of the GP fundholding scheme, pointed to practical ways of changing the internal market—[Interruption.]—and announced a review of the number and configuration of trusts in Wales, which should lead to a new pattern of trust-based services. I am glad that Conservative Members cheered my announcement.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Labour, Cynon Valley

Is my hon. Friend aware that, one week after the election, the North Glamorgan NHS trust announced that it had to make savings of £750,000 and that the axe is now hanging over various services in Aberdare, including the rehabilitation ward, respite care and day surgery? May I say to him, very kindly, that the people of the Cynon valley voted Labour for a better NHS, not a worse one?

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Welsh Office

I have undertaken to visit North Glamorgan NHS trust. I am aware of its financial problems, but I have been informed that it intends to carry out a cost improvement programme, which will mean that all its existing contracts can continue to be fulfilled.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Social Security)

Can the hon. Gentleman give the House a categorical assurance that the obscenity of possible charges for hospital stays, for visiting a GP and for some prescriptions for pensioners will not happen in Wales?

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Welsh Office

I assure the shadow Minister that, under our current review of spending in Wales, all those proposals are not within the orbit of our consideration. Any discussion of those matters will be conducted at a United Kingdom level.