Jobs at Russells Hall hospital are at risk as managers battle with a £12 million deficit that the chief executive says is critical. Staff are working flat out, but people are still waiting too long in A and E, and too long for other treatment. What will the Secretary of
State do to ensure that patients in Dudley and the hard-working staff at Russells Hall get the support they need?
I will tell the hon. Gentleman exactly what we are doing. The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust has 350 additional nurses this Parliament, and it has got them because this Government took the difficult decision to protect and increase the NHS budget, because those of us on the Government Benches know that a strong NHS needs a strong economy. We are taking measures, but there is more to do. I recognise that the staff on the front line are working very hard, but I think that he should also give credit when things are starting to move in the right direction.
My right hon. Friend will be aware of the strains placed on the budgets of the Countess of Chester NHS Trust because of the need to treat thousands of patients every year who are fleeing the disastrous management of Labour in Wales. What action is my right hon. Friend taking to ensure that hospitals on the English side of the border get a fair share of resources?
My hon. Friend is right to talk about that intolerable pressure on hospitals on the England-Wales border. For every one English patient admitted for treatment in a Welsh hospital, five Welsh patients are admitted for treatment in an English hospital, which creates huge pressure for them. I have written to the Welsh Health Minister to say that the NHS is happy to treat more Welsh patients, but the trouble is that NHS Wales is not prepared to pay for it. That is why Welsh patients get a second-class health service. [Interruption.]
With hospitals set to be £1 billion in the red this year, the Secretary of State should be getting a grip of NHS finances. Instead, he is starting on yet another reorganisation. First, he put NHS England in charge of commissioning primary and specialist care. Now, NHS England wants to hand this back to clinical commissioning groups. Ministers have already wasted three years and £3 billion of taxpayers’ money. How much will this Secretary of State’s second reorganisation cost?
It is lovely spin from the party that carried out nine reorganisations in 13 years. The difficult truth for the Labour party is that this reorganisation that they fought so hard against has been a success. We are saving this Parliament £5 billion. We have reduced the number of administrators by 19,000. We have hired 10,000 more doctors and nurses with the money, and the result is that our NHS, in very difficult circumstances, is doing nearly a million more operations every single year. That is something that we on both sides of the House should welcome and be proud of.