Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:30 pm on 13th October 2003.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe Conservative 11:30 pm, 13th October 2003

The Minister and I agree on one thing, which is that the primary purpose of a foundation trust is to provide services to NHS patients. I have no argument with that, but that is why I believe that the Government are being short-sighted over this issue.

I concentrated my remarks on capital equipment, as the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, said, because the expansion of privately provided beds is likely to be via the DTCs in the years ahead rather than any in-house expansion in NHS trusts.

The Government's position will lead not only to perverse consequences but to adverse consequences for NHS patients. It is directly counter-productive. I heard the Minister repeat the Government's position, but I did not really hear him justify it. The truth is that there is no real justification apart from doctrine; that is highly regrettable, when the Government in many other ways are freeing themselves up from the rigid thinking that dominated their first few years in office.