NHS Workforce and Service Development

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 12:44 pm on 11th October 2006.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health 12:44 pm, 11th October 2006

To some extent, my hon. Friend and I share that hospital. Patients from my constituency go to Hinchingbrooke hospital. That anticipates something that I was going to say. It is disgraceful that "reviews"—in inverted commas—should be taking place that are in fact driven by finance. The implication— [Interruption.] Members might like to listen to this point. The implication of that for staff working at Hinchingbrooke is that the maternity unit has to be closed because it is not safe, but that is not true as it has one of the finest patient safety records in the country. That is financially driven.

Frankly, I do not think that the strategic health authority should be the body doing that. We are supposed to be moving—this is what the Government say—towards a structure in the health service that is increasingly geared towards the decisions of local commissioners such as primary care trusts, practices through practice-based commissioning, and patient choice. However, on the contrary, we have a strategic health authority that has just been established and that has inherited a financial problem—many of my colleagues right across the east of England are in the same position. Because of a £233 million deficit, it will decide which hospitals stay open and which are shut. That is a disgrace. In a year or two services will be shut down by the strategic health authority, but in subsequent years we will have to re-establish them because they are required to meet the needs of patients.