NHS Finances

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 14th March 2006.

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Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives 9:30 am, 14th March 2006

I am pleased to have secured this Adjournment debate. It is pertinent, particularly as it comes after what I describe as the sacking of the chief executive of the NHS, and after the announcement only last week that the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS trust faces an £8.1 million deficit this year and is engaged in a financial recovery programme that will involve the sacking of 300 staff and the loss of vital services to the trust at three hospitals that cover Cornwall, two of which are in my constituency. I also raised the issue of acute hospital funding on 6 April last year—the debate can be found in columns 1545 to 1554 of Hansard.

I should declare an interest, as my wife is a nurse in the local trust. I should also say by way of background that I welcome the increase in NHS resources. I am not mealy-mouthed about the substantial resources that the Government have put into the NHS since 1999. However, many of us are asking what those resources have achieved. There have been cuts in some of the headline figures in respect of waiting lists, but serious questions must be asked about the effectiveness of the use of resources in the NHS.

The sacking of Sir Nigel Crisp last week demonstrated the seriousness of the situation that many hundreds of trusts will face towards the end of this financial year. Arguably, Ministers are more exposed now that he is gone than they were before, and his departure raises questions about why so many primary care trusts, and acute trusts in particular, are facing such high deficits.