NHS Trusts: Accountability

Part of Delegated Legislation – in the House of Commons at 5:31 pm on 10th July 2018.

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Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning Conservative, Hemel Hempstead 5:31 pm, 10th July 2018

My hon. Friend brings great expertise to the debate, and I thank her for joining us. She is absolutely right. I declare an interest: my mother was a nurse in the days of “sister” and “matron”. Then there were nurse managers and other managers—all of a sudden, we went that way, but we seem to be coming back again. We can change the name on the Titanic, but it is still the Titanic: a manager is a manager, no matter what title we put on them.

It seems to me that we are not reducing the number of managers. I vividly remember that there were 11 primary care trusts in the Dacorum area of my constituency. Then the number reduced to two—one, actually, because there was only one director of finance. When we looked at the head count, the cost analysis, which should have massively reduced, it had actually gone up.

I want clinicians to be involved in the day-to-day care of my constituents, but I am not convinced that a GP should chair a clinical commissioning group, especially given that in most cases they do not seem to be full time in the role. What qualifications do they bring? I know that GP practices are much more business-orientated now than ever before, but they employ practice managers—the partners do not run things.

More recently, there has been an understandable concern in my constituency about the proposed closure of one of the facilities called Nascot Lawn; it is not in my constituency, but was playing a vital role in looking after the most vulnerable children in my community. Brilliantly, the families and loved ones came together to challenge the closure. They got the MPs on board and we were involved. I then scratched my head and said, “Hold on a second, I remember being told that Nascot Lawn was going to provide the respite care for my constituents when they closed a place called Woolmer Drive.” Woolmer Drive was a desperately needed respite centre where young people could go, and where their carers and loved ones could spend a bit of time. So not only did Woolmer Drive close, which meant that patients had to go to Nascot Lawn, but Nascot Lawn was closing. That was challenged, but there was very, very little consultation.

I will talk about consultations in quite a lot of depth. Frankly, most consultations are a sham. The decisions are made before they consult. They make the decision to close, put it in their budgetary regime and then consult. They then come out and say, “We’ve listened to the consultation and we are going to ignore you.” So what is the point of the consultation?