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Public Services

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 1:57 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Louise Ellman Louise Ellman Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool, Riverside 1:57 pm, 16th October 2019

I agree that the hon. Member makes important points, but Merseyside police force has lost 1,100 officers since 2010 and the Government’s proposals are to replace only 70 of them. That is hardly addressing the problem.

I now want to turn to the scandal of the unfinished new Royal Liverpool hospital, which was due to open its doors in March 2017. Now, two and a half years later, the hospital has not been finished and there is no date for it to open its doors. First, there was the collapse of the PFI as Carillion went under. Following that, there was the new scandal of the major demolition of key parts of the new building that was put up by Carillion, which is, of course, now defunct. Major parts of the new building, including beams, had to be demolished because they were unsafe. All of the cladding on the new hospital needed to be replaced, because it too was deemed unsafe.

This deplorable situation demands an inquiry into how that took place. Even more than that, it is absolutely essential that funds are made available quickly to complete the building of the hospital, and that the funds are not taken from other health budgets that are equally important to the people of Liverpool. The people of Liverpool need their hospital. Vital health services are required. Although the current staff at the Royal Liverpool hospital are excellent and work extremely hard, they are battling against a failing building. The new hospital should be taking its place on the campus, together with the new Clatterbridge cancer centre, to bring top class cancer treatment to the people of Liverpool. The new hospital is also part of Liverpool’s regeneration and a part of its thriving health and biomedical centre. The hospital, its medical services and its research must work with the groundbreaking international work already done by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Institute of Infection and Global Health, parts of Liverpool University, which are renowned for combating tuberculosis and other diseases—and, indeed, combating poverty—throughout the world. The hospital is therefore absolutely essential to provide top class services to the people of Liverpool and essential to the city’s regeneration.

It is absolutely deplorable that we are in this situation. Two and a half years after the new hospital was promised, no end is in sight. I have asked Ministers repeatedly—three new Ministers in the past few months—for an answer about what is happening and for a meeting to discuss the situation. I have not been offered a meeting and I have not been given a proper answer to these key questions. I have been told that a business case is being prepared and that much is being discussed. I would like to make it very clear today that that is simply not good enough. The hospital has to be completed. The funds have to be made available. They must not be taken from any other source, which would create more problems for other parts of the health sector and for the people of Liverpool and elsewhere. It is the Government’s responsibility to finish the hospital, and finish it soon. I will persist in asking these questions and I will not be going away, at least until the new hospital is operating.