If he will bring forward proposals to widen the range of services and treatments available in community hospitals in rural areas.
Responsibility for the commissioning of local NHS services lies with clinical commissioning groups.
Community hospitals have an important role in achieving more integrated care across health and social care services in rural areas by providing better out-of-hospital care, particularly for frail older people and those with long-term conditions.
A new community hospital is to be built in Berwick, which is 50 miles from major hospitals. Will it be free to offer a wider range of services, along the lines envisaged by the NHS chief executive in his recent comments?
I know that my right hon. Friend has been campaigning for that hospital. I welcomed the comments of the chief executive of NHS England, who has argued for much a more flexible and adaptable NHS, and for ensuring that GPs locally working with community services can offer the maximum range of health services to the local community as close to them as possible.
Two and a half years ago, my right hon. Friend Mr Burns, then Minister of State, opened the St Luke’s hospital day care unit in Market Harborough, which serves a large rural area in my constituency. During those two and a half years it has been open for only 131 days, which is a huge waste of public money. I wrote to the Secretary of State yesterday. He will not have had a chance to read my letter yet, but will my hon. Friend and his colleagues look into the matter, and ensure that we do not waste public money on opening hospitals that do not provide a service?
My hon. and learned Friend has raised an extremely important point. It is essential that the maximum possible use be made of investment. I know that the Secretary of State will look into this issue when he has received the letter, but we must ensure that all such facilities are properly used.