Treatment Options

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 18th October 2011.

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Photo of Helen Jones Helen Jones Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) 2:30 pm, 18th October 2011

What steps he is taking to ensure that patients receive accurate and unbiased information on treatment options.

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

The NHS constitution gives people a right to information about their treatment options. I want everyone to get timely, trustworthy information such as patient decision aids, so that they are involved in their care decisions. The Health and Social Care Bill will ensure that the commissioning board and clinical commissioning groups secure that.

Photo of Helen Jones Helen Jones Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

In the light of that answer, will the Minister condemn the decision by GPs in Haxby to use NHS data to tout the services of their own private company and give wrong information to patients? Or is that simply a foretaste of what will happen under the Health and Social Care Bill when clinical commissioning groups decide what services are necessary, leaving private companies in which they may have an interest to pick up the slack in a privatised, marketised NHS in which patients come last?

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

The hon. Lady is spreading yet more myths and misconceptions about the reforms that this Government are making. If she had researched the matter more thoroughly, she would know that there is a code of conduct for the promotion of NHS-funded services, which makes it clear that providers of primary medical services cannot directly or indirectly seek or accept from any of their patients payment or other remuneration for any treatment. As a result, the PCT is questioning that clinic about how it has used patient information and will continue to pursue the matter.

Photo of David Tredinnick David Tredinnick Conservative, Bosworth

Does my hon. Friend agree that many patients look to NHS Choices for accurate and unbiased information? Is he aware that its site on homeopathy is both biased and inaccurate? As the Department has had a long-standing review that has not reported, will he—

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

If the hon. Gentleman would care to write to me setting out where he believes there are inaccuracies, we will examine them.

Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State for Health

It is good to be back. I see that in my absence, the Secretary of State has at last made some progress with his plans for a US-style health care system.

I have a letter sent by the practice that my hon. Friend Helen Jones mentioned a moment ago, in which it wrote that

“we can no longer offer your procedure as one of our NHS services…I am writing to make you aware of some of the options that you have to have the procedure completed as a private patient.”

Helpfully, it enclosed a leaflet announcing the practice’s new private minor operations service. Can the Minister point me to any part of the Health and Social Care Bill that will prevent that practice in future?

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman could have pointed me to any such arrangements in current legislation. There is none. However, Dr David Geddes, the medical director of NHS North Yorkshire and York, has stated:

“We have some concerns about the activities of the Haxby and Wigginton health centre in York and we will be discussing these issues with them directly as a matter of urgency. These concerns are around possible breaches of the Data Protection Act and the accuracy of the information sent to patients. For example, of the eight procedures they list, three are routinely funded by NHS North Yorkshire and York”.

Let us be clear that when he was Secretary of State, that PCT was in a worse financial state.

Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State for Health

That is total bluster, because that vision is precisely what the Government want to do to our NHS. As my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington North said, it is a terrifying glimpse of a Tory NHS in future—not a national health service but a postcode lottery writ large, in which, as we read today, random rationing is taking place around the country. The NHS is in chaos because the Secretary of State made the mistake of combining a £2.5 billion reorganisation, at a time when every ounce of energy should be focused on the NHS front line. This Secretary of State has placed our national health service in the danger zone, and he has lost the confidence of GPs, nurses and midwives. Is it not time that he stopped digging in, listened to NHS staff and dropped this damaging Bill?

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

That was a good example of bluster—perhaps that is what we will see from the Opposition under the right hon. Gentleman’s stewardship.

The right hon. Gentleman ought to be aware, because it happened on his watch, that primary care trusts and strategic health authorities have seen their management costs increase by more than £1 billion. There was a 120% increase from 2002 to when this Government took office. That is why we are determined to cut overhead costs in the NHS, so that we can reinvest every penny in the front line.