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Access to NHS Services

Part of Opposition Day — [15th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:43 pm on 3rd July 2007.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health 4:43 pm, 3rd July 2007

We have made it clear throughout that we agree that services must be developed, but that must be done in response to the changing needs of patients and the development of technology. Where community hospitals are concerned, it is not only the Conservatives who argue that they are an integral part of the delivery of care closer to the patient: the Government said so in the White Paper published in January 2006. That White Paper presented the rhetoric of support for community hospitals and that is why the Government ostensibly provided for a new capital fund to allow community hospitals to be developed. But too much of that money has been siphoned off to primary care centres and too little is being delivered. At the same time as the fund was being established, too many community hospitals did not have the revenue to enable them to continue to work. So community hospitals are being shut down in Cornwall, Devon, Wiltshire, near Bristol, Norfolk and Kent, and the list goes on. There are probably a hundred more that are still under threat because the Government have not delivered on the promises made in the White Paper at the beginning of last year that services would continue to be commissioned—including diagnostic services close to patients, out-patient clinics and, most importantly in some respects, access to in-patient services that allow step-up and step-down services to be provided.