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Elective Treatments

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 25th January 2011.

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Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) 2:30 pm, 25th January 2011

What recent discussions he has had with primary care trusts on their policies on halting elective treatments in cases where such treatment has been demonstrated to be effective.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department of Health

Strategic health authorities have recently been reminded of the statutory commissioning responsibilities of their primary care trusts in this area, and the need to base commissioning decisions on clinical evidence and discussions with local GP commissioners, secondary care clinicians and providers.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Shadow Minister (Equalities Office)

What is the Minister's response to the trusts that have been saving money by halting procedures such as hip and knee replacements, hernias and hysterectomies, which have proved to be clinically effective? My constituent, John Deas, has just lost the care of the nurse practitioner who has managed his prostate cancer over some years and has been referred to a GP who will not see him. As the president of the Royal College of Surgeons said that the immediate need to

"save money by going for the soft targets of elective surgery will leave a lot of people with unpleasant symptoms and build up future health problems. Medically that makes no sense."

Does it make any sense governmentally?

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department of Health

I am sorry to hear about the example that the hon. Lady mentioned; if she would like to write to me with the details, I would be more than happy to look into it. PCTs have a continuing responsibility to provide clinical treatment for their patients. Obviously, once the PCTs cease to exist, that will happen through the GP consortia and the national commissioning board. There is also a legal right in the NHS constitution for patients to be treated when they need to be.

Photo of Stewart Jackson Stewart Jackson Conservative, Peterborough

A number of patient groups across the country are concerned about the future of in vitro fertilisation treatments, particularly when many PCTs downgraded it and put it on a par with things like tattoo removal and cosmetic surgery. Will the Minister confirm that, in future, IVF treatments will fall under the remit of the NHS commissioning board?

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department of Health

Let me reassure my hon. Friend on IVF. PCT commissioners should have regard to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines for fertility treatment, including to the recommendation that up to three cycles of IVF treatment are offered to eligible couples. To reinforce this, in November last year, the NHS operations board reminded PCTs, through the SHAs, of that responsibility. Indeed, Mr David Flory of the Department of Health has in the last month or so written to PCTs to remind them of their responsibilities.