NHS Resources and Priorities

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:10 pm on 14th November 2000.

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Photo of The Bishop of Birmingham The Bishop of Birmingham Bishop 5:10 pm, 14th November 2000

My Lords, coming from Birmingham--a city that the Minister knows well--I welcome the attention to inequality. Birmingham has suffered terribly from under-resourcing in its health provision, partly through its own fault, because people could never agree on what they wanted. It is not least due to the noble Lord's work before he became a Minister that something is being done about that at last and the health service in Birmingham is finally responding.

I have three questions--two specific to Birmingham and one more general question. First, we have heard a lot about the development of ambulatory services. When are we going to hear something about that in Birmingham? Perhaps there has already been an announcement that I have missed. Secondly, how soon will we know whether Birmingham will get a new hospital? I declare an interest as a non-executive director of the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust. Thirdly, the Minister has rightly emphasised waiting times, not just waiting lists. The issue is not just a matter of resources, but of how they are used. Rather than just asking people to do their job ever more quickly, we need to be more imaginative and to have some joined-up thinking on how people are referred. We need fewer paperchases and more imaginative use of information technology. We should ask what effort is being put into encouraging the reduction of waiting times by more sensible use of resources.