NHS Workforce and Service Development

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:14 pm on 11th October 2006.

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Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Conservative, Charnwood 3:14 pm, 11th October 2006

My hon. Friend is right. Why does that undermine morale? It is partly because it results in unemployed people with training that they want to use and partly because the people in the service know better than the politicians the impact of the failures on the service delivered to patients from day to day. They can compare that service with what they want to deliver and what they know could be delivered if only the health service was led in a way that faced up to the real choices about which the Secretary of State likes to talk.

I agree with the Secretary of State when she talks about the importance of facing hard choices to deliver real improvements in health care. However, I look for a Minister who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. I want to link the situation to the seven or eight rounds of bureaucratic change that we have had in the health service since 1997. The Government have brought us back round to virtually the same point at which they started nine years ago. Not only has that process led to a huge waste of resources—I have seen estimates suggesting that the whole rigmarole has cost roughly £1 billion—but more fundamentally and importantly, it has meant that the kaleidoscope of changing management structures simply has not addressed the real choices about which the Secretary of State has talked. That is the link between the bureaucratic changes for which the Government are responsible and their fundamental failure to deliver improvements in health care, which is what hon. Members on both sides of the House want.