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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 4:15 pm on 11th March 2014.

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Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Chair, Health and Social Care Committee 4:15 pm, 11th March 2014

I want briefly to explain why I intend to support clause 119 in the Lobby this evening and to say that I have some sympathy with the points that my right hon. Friend Paul Burstow made about new clause 16. I hope that the Minister will address his specific points about the importance of equivalence between the commissioners of unaffected hospitals and the commissioners of key services. This is not about a veto, I suggest to Heidi Alexander; it is about the right of commissioners out of area to safeguard essential services in a parallel way to commissioners in the core area of the affected trust that is subject to the trust special administrator regime.

The core points made about the consequences when a trust special administrator is appointed are important, although, with respect to other Members, we must be clear that those consequences are very limited. We are talking about the consequences of appointing a TSA to a trust that is financially unsustainable. We are all agreed that if the trust is not financially unsustainable, a TSA will not be appointed. We all agree that reconfiguration is necessary. Of course it is better done in consultation with local communities and professional groups and through the normal reconfiguration process; everyone agrees about that. The question before the House in relation to clause 119 is what happens if those preferred options fail, the trust becomes financially unsustainable, and a TSA is appointed. It is a question of whether the TSA, in that narrow set of circumstances occurring twice in five years, is required to think only about the institution in isolation or should be looking at the interests of patients as a whole in the context of the health economy in the immediate and surrounding areas.