NHS Workforce and Service Development

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:23 pm on 11th October 2006.

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Photo of Patricia Hewitt Patricia Hewitt Secretary of State, Department of Health 1:23 pm, 11th October 2006

I will not give way, as I want to make progress.

The Conservative party has told us this week that it wants an independent commissioning board completely free to decide where patients should be treated, but it opposes any change in NHS provision, including, it appears from one Conservative Member, the involvement of Age Concern in providing some services. It says that it wants to put decisions in the hands of NHS professionals but, every time the local NHS proposes to make a change in the organisation of services, members of the Conservative party are out marching in the streets to oppose it. They protest—they have been doing it again this afternoon—against every closure of a community hospital.

Conservative Members should go to Norwich and talk to Tony Hadley, the brilliant nurse manager whom I met recently who worked with his nursing and community team to reorganise community hospital services. They cut the number of community hospital beds, they closed some wards and closed two community hospitals and centralised them in a third. Conservative Members are out on the picket lines when anything like that is proposed in their constituencies, but what Tony Hadley and his team did in Norwich was to listen to patients who want to be cared for at home rather than in hospital and they put half the staff out of the community hospital and into the community itself. They doubled the number of patients that they could care for, they slashed the number of emergency admissions and they saved £1 million a year that can go into better care for other patients. The Conservative party has to decide whether it is for or against that.