Oral Answers to Questions — Unit Modernisation

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd March 1999.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Patrick Hall Patrick Hall Labour, Bedford 12:00 am, 2nd March 1999

What proposals he has for the modernisation of intensive care and high-dependency units in the current year. [72385]

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Minister of State (Department of Health) (Public Health)

A modern health service needs modern intensive care and high-dependency care services. We have already, since the new year, invested almost £10 million to increase capacity. We are reviewing plans for next winter and the longer term, including the need for national standards.

Photo of Patrick Hall Patrick Hall Labour, Bedford

I thank my right hon. Friend for her answer. May I also thank the Secretary of State for recently visiting Bedford, where he thanked national health service staff for their hard work and dedication. That message went down very well and was appreciated in the area—[Interruption.] Conservative Members react to that statement, but they should realise that the British people do appreciate the commitment to the health service shown by the Secretary of State and the Government. One group of people whom the Secretary of State met at Bedford hospital were the team at the hospital's intensive care unit. Does the Minister also have a message for that intensive care unit team, as they consider necessary improvements in the unit's capacity and conditions?

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Minister of State (Department of Health) (Public Health)

Bedfordshire health authority is considering the case for providing more intensive care beds. Later this year, we expect to receive a report from the Audit Commission, which will provide national guidance in NHS planning on both the quality of intensive care services and the number of intensive care beds. The previous Government ploughed on in chaos in dealing with intensive care provision, without the faintest idea of how many intensive care beds were available. We have put that right.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

Does the right hon. Lady agree that few high-dependency units fulfil a more critical function than burns units and heart-lung transplant units, as exemplified by Mount Vernon hospital and Harefield hospital in my constituency? Therefore, can the right hon. Lady put my constituents and those for many around about out of their misery by announcing that both those units will receive the modernisation that they rightly deserve, and which would be much more cost-effective than moving the facilities elsewhere?

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Minister of State (Department of Health) (Public Health)

The hon. Gentleman is right to say that there needs to be a proper assessment of the level of care that individual intensive care units are capable of providing. He will be aware that the proposals for the two specific hospitals he mentioned are currently being considered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.