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I could not agree more with my hon. Friend.
TSAs can consider the impact on neighbouring authorities when making their recommendations, but they cannot and should not reconfigure services in well-performing trusts. Well-run trusts can and do collaborate with their neighbours, and play a role in reconfiguring services to help to achieve financial stability, but that must be voluntary. It is wrong for the Government to act through TSAs to reconfigure services in well-run trusts, and to do so against the wishes of local people and clinicians. It is also wrong that the opinions of health care professionals should be overruled by financial concerns, especially when the decisions being made affect trusts that are not at financial risk. That undermines the ability of health care professionals to act in the interests of their public.
The Government’s defence of the proposal is that clause 119 is a clarification of existing law, and yet the amendment was tabled in the other place while the Government’s appeal over the downgrading of services at Lewisham was still being considered. Surely it is the role of the courts to interpret and therefore clarify the law. It is more likely that the Government anticipated that their appeal would be rejected, as it was, and acted to expand the powers of TSAs so that reconfigurations such as that proposed for Lewisham could go ahead in future. I want to be clear: when any Government amends legislation so that it can be interpreted differently in the courts, they are not clarifying things but changing them.