NHS Hospital Management

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 15th January 2002.

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Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris Liberal Democrat, Oxford West and Abingdon 3:32 pm, 15th January 2002

Is not the Secretary of State creating a two-tier system of hospitals? The first is for those hospitals that he judges to be performing well and to which this most centralising of Government claim to be giving independence. The Commission for Health Improvement is being charged with inspecting these hospitals based on performance criteria laid down by him—political hoops that hospitals will be asked to jump through. The commission will have to examine how well they are doing not whether it is worth their time doing that. In providing freedom to pay more to staff in better-off hospitals that are doing well, is not the danger that they will simply recruit staff at the expense of the poorer hospitals that have been even more under-resourced by the Government?

On the so-called failing hospitals, does the Secretary of State recognise that, by his criteria, hospitals could be judged as failing because they put patients and clinical priority before politics and political targets? They will be judged to be failing if they suffer from the Government- induced crisis of bed blocking due to underfunding of social care and the crisis in the care sector.

The Secretary of State used a comparison with schools. Does he not recognise that naming and shaming to shift the blame from him creates a crisis in confidence that will worsen staff retention in the health service? If it comes to bad managers being removed, he need look no further than himself as the worst manager of a centralising Government who try to micromanage the whole health service.