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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 4:45 pm on 11th March 2014.

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Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Labour, South Shields 4:45 pm, 11th March 2014

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not believe it applies to clause 119.

My constituents are not especially concerned by the technicalities of legislation. The letters and e-mails I receive show concern with the practicalities of clause 119. People tell me that they fear for local services because, as more trusts fall into financial difficulties—more than 30 are reported to be in serious danger of doing so—the Secretary of State’s power will spread over a wide region. Perhaps the trusts that those people or their relatives use will not have a TSA appointed, but it is likely that services in their area will collaborate with trusts that do have one appointed. That makes them a target.

If the heroic efforts of the people of Lewisham and my hon. Friends are anything to go by, public concern will quickly turn to public outrage and protest if clause 119 makes it to the statute book. Lewisham has shown the Government the strength of opposition they can expect when they attempt to force unpopular reconfigurations on local communities. It is difficult to understand why they propose using that model throughout the country, but it appears that that is their intention.

I am concerned that, by taking that approach and using the TSA regime for a purpose for which it was never intended, the Government will make it more difficult to have a level-headed discussion on meeting financial challenges. We need a mature debate on how to adapt services to improve sustainability, but clause 119 will lead to pitched battles up and down the country over the closure of individual departments. The clause has attracted more controversy than any other in the Bill, and with good reason. It ignores the will of clinicians and the communities they serve. It puts at risk services in every corner of the UK. The Government must change course now.