Hospital Trusts

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 6th April 2005.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport) 11:30 am, 6th April 2005

what discussions he has had with (a) the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales and (b) Cabinet colleagues on the financial position of hospital trusts in Wales.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

In thanking the Secretary of State for that less than full reply, may I ask him whether he agrees that to improve the health service in Wales, he will have to increase its budget? Why, then, has he cut the health budget for the forthcoming year?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Chair, Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee, The Secretary of State for Wales, Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal

I do not know where the hon. Lady gets her figures from—perhaps from the shadow Chancellor. His figures are about as trustworthy as Mickey Mouse's.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Chair, Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee, The Secretary of State for Wales, Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal

The hon. Gentleman says that that comment was an insult to Mickey Mouse. In that case, I withdraw it.

The truth is that the Welsh health budget will have doubled under this Labour Government and compares with the situation in which patients lost treatment from NHS dentists under the last Conservative Government, nurses' jobs were cut, hospital jobs were cut and hospitals were closed. I should have thought that the hon. Lady would have got up to apologise for the dreadful Conservative record and to welcome the doubling of the Welsh health budget.

Photo of Mr Huw Edwards Mr Huw Edwards Labour, Monmouth

Will my right hon. Friend bring his Cabinet colleagues to the Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust, whose financial position has allowed us to have a new community hospital in Chepstow, a new day surgery unit in Nevill Hall, a new CT scanner and a new coronary care unit costing £2.5 million? We are also about to start work on a new health and social care facility in Monmouth, as well as a new orthopaedic centre at St. Woolas. Does he agree that the people of Wales want that investment in the health service and not the public expenditure cuts promised by the Tories?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Chair, Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee, The Secretary of State for Wales, Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal

Absolutely—that is why the people of Monmouth will re-elect my hon. Friend as their Member of Parliament on 5 May. They will take note of the fact that the Conservatives, as part of their £35 billion of cuts, will rob the health service and public services in Wales of £2 billion. In addition, with their patient's passport, which will charge people to have operations, they plan to take £60 million out of the Welsh national health service and to encourage people to go down the road of having their operations done privately. That £60 million is the equivalent of 2,400 nurses or 660 Welsh consultants. If the Conservatives were elected, such a cut would damage the health service in Gwent and right across Wales.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Can the Secretary of State confirm whether it is true that, according to the Evening Post, Swansea faces debts of up to £15 million, and Neath, Port Talbot and Bridgend £10 million each? The fact that the British Medical Association has passed a vote of no confidence in the Assembly clearly shows how badly it feels it has been let down. Given the headline that appears in The Western Mail today, I could sign that motion. Why could not he?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Chair, Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee, The Secretary of State for Wales, Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal

The hon. Gentleman can sign a pledge in the knowledge that it would be totally worthless, because as a result of the spending cuts that the Conservatives intend to introduce, the Welsh health service would be back to the dismal state that it was in when we began to rescue it in 1997.

As for the deficits in the health budgets, this is the third year running in which the deficit has fallen. The Assembly is on target to achieve financial balance by 2008–09, thus eliminating the deficit, including in Swansea.