Clinical commissioning groups, as statutory organisations, have a duty to deliver the best possible services and outcomes for patients within their financial allocation. NHS England supports them in this by providing several sets of guidance, as do the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and other arm’s length bodies.
I thank the Minister for that answer. He will know that the clinically driven Future Fit process in Shropshire could lead to hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in our local hospital. That is being jeopardised by Telford CCG and Labour-controlled Telford council. When there is this gridlock and impasse between two local CCGs over a long period of time, what more can the Government do to break the deadlock?
I am aware that my hon. Friend has been concerned about this for a long time. An independent review of Future Fit is taking place, and he will know that Professor Simon Brake has been appointed as the independent chair of the joint committee of CCGs, agreed between them both. The review will report in July and be considered by the local CCGs before next steps, including on public consultation, are decided. Clear rules apply to any significant reconfigurations and I expect these to be followed in Shropshire as anywhere else.
Patients at the Manchester Royal infirmary with serious congenital heart problems found out last week that the services will now no longer be provided in Manchester, or in fact anywhere in the north-west, due to a Government review of services which means that staff cannot be retained and recruited. What has the Minister got to say to those patients who have now got to go to Leeds or Newcastle to get the lifesaving surgery that they need?
Does my hon. Friend agree that, when political activists mislead and misinform my constituents about the future of our Princess Royal hospital, the CCG should communicate directly and clearly with residents so that they can be reassured that our A&E and our women’s and children’s services are safe?
Yes, I do. The CCG should communicate directly with patients, and that should be clinically led when making the clinical case for any service reconfigurations. As I said to my hon. Friend Daniel Kawczynski, there are clear guidelines that the CCGs must follow. There are now five tests that must be met before any reconfigurations are brought forward, and that should be the same for my hon. Friend’s area as for everywhere else in England.
The Abingdon community hospital is a treasured asset in my constituency, but in trying to find savings of £176 million, the local clinical commissioning group is launching a consultation on its future imminently. May I seek reassurance, on behalf of my constituents, that the hospital will not close and that, as part of the consultation, their voices will be not only heard but acted upon?
Clinical commissioning groups have a statutory responsibility to consult the public, and Members of Parliament have a key role in ensuring that members of the public engage with those consultations, as I do in my area. I will be following the hon. Lady’s case closely, and she is welcome to come and see me about it if she likes.