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I very much agree with what my hon. Friend Sir Patrick Cormack has just said, and I am very glad that he agreed with some of what I said in an earlier intervention. I also agree with my hon. Friend Mr. O'Brien that we want effective early intervention; I think we are all agreed on that.
I am also very happy to pay tribute to the Minister and the Secretary of State for the manner in which they have looked at this issue in Mid Staffordshire with both some of my colleagues from Staffordshire and me personally on a number of occasions. If I may say so without implying any disrespect, they have dealt with this matter far better than their predecessors; that is my frank opinion
This is a huge issue, and it is about lessons to be learned as well as what actually happened. As I said in my intervention on Sandra Gidley, I am sorry that the Select Committee gave only one sitting to these major issues-although we do now have the Francis committee. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire said, the real problem arose in the granting of trust status in the first place, and, as I pointed out in my intervention, that was largely because the chairman of Monitor was present at that meeting and gave clear criteria. I have seen the minutes, and I have handed them over to the Minister-not that he needs me to hand them over to him-because it was astonishing that the Monitor chairman laid down criteria for finance and governance, and that was followed up by a number of questions that showed that that was the primary concern. The consequence was the Healthcare Commission report, and now what the Care Quality Commission is saying as well.
I want the current inquiry under Mr. Robert Francis to be as successful as possible, but both the Secretary of State and the Minister know that I have grave reservations about whether it can achieve its objectives. I still profoundly believe-I am glad that my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State is present because we both know this, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury-that it is essential that we have a full public inquiry if the consequences of this latest inquiry under Mr. Robert Francis do not work out. This all started with a failure of Monitor, and we must have a full public inquiry if the results of this inquiry are not successful.
I must tell hon. Members that only last week I received yet another letter from a constituent-I have passed it on-about a grandfather who died in the most appalling circumstances, and that demonstrates that things are not going as well as they should in this hospital. The Secretary of State may not recall the letter immediately, but it is with him. I am profoundly concerned about merely leaving these issues to Monitor. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire said, this is very convoluted stuff; I have no doubt that many lawyers have sat down to plough through the relative powers and functions of Monitor and the Secretary of State, and are seeking a way to get the right result, by nudging rather than by pushing or, indeed, by having things taken over. This situation would have been a lot more straightforward if we had been given a straight answer to the straight question that I have put so often: why cannot the Secretary of State take for himself powers-like special measures in schools-to override everybody in the interests of the health of our constituents?
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