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New Clause 6 — Secretary of State’s response to a section 65 regulator’s report on an NHS foundation trust

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 11th March 2014.

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Photo of Heidi Alexander Heidi Alexander Opposition Whip (Commons) 4:00 pm, 11th March 2014

I want to do two things in my contribution: first, to speak in support of amendment 30, which would delete clause 119; and, secondly, to make a few comments on new clause 16, which was tabled by Paul Burstow. I would be content to support the right hon. Gentleman’s new clause, but I have some reservations and some questions that I would like his assistance in answering.

I do not want to rehearse everything that has been said about the case of Lewisham and the trust special administration process that took place in south London. My hon. Friend Jim Dowd summed up well the feelings of frustration and anger that existed in Lewisham at the time. Like him, I do not wish to inflict that process on other communities across the country.

I concur with everything the shadow Secretary of State said about the TSA regime being the wrong starting point for a discussion of how and where local health services are provided. Such a regime starts with the need to save money, and all the members of the public I spoke to saw through it straight away. They asked, “Why on earth is this not driven by what is in the best interests of people’s health, as opposed to having the starting point of needing to save money?” Such an approach breeds cynicism and scepticism among the public from the very outset.

In my experience, the TSA process also leads to rushed and shoddy work being done by those who are carrying it out. As I said on Second Reading—this is worth repeating—in Lewisham the special administrator suggested that his proposed changes to the whole health economy of south-east London would cost £266 million and would take three years to implement. His projections were shown to be catastrophically wrong: it would cost twice as much and take twice as long.

The process and the consultation were atrocious. I stood outside a public meeting where 100 people were trying to get into a packed hall in which there were already 300 people. The police had to be called to escort the trust administrator into the room.