Tonbridge Hospital/Edenbridge Hospital

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:17 pm on 16th October 2012.

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Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 4:17 pm, 16th October 2012

I cannot give that undertaking. The point is well made; I will take it back to the Department and ensure that the Secretary of State is aware of it. Many such decisions will be taken locally. My right hon. Friend and the League of Friends should continue to make all the representations that they have already made, and I know that they will do so.

The safeguards have been put in place. As my right hon. Friend knows, where any former estate becomes surplus to NHS requirements, 50% of any financial gain made by the provider must be paid back to the Secretary of State for Health and will go straight to front-line NHS services. Based on what I have been told and what I have seen in the 2012 Act, I am of the view that if a community hospital—if this is what occurs—is transferred to NHS Property Services Ltd, it will not in some way be deemed surplus to requirements by NHS Property Services Ltd.

The two hospitals that my right hon. Friend rightly champions would only ever become surplus to requirements if the CCG stopped commissioning their services. I am told that that is extremely unlikely to happen. He should have no fear at all that NHS Property Services Ltd will sit and looking at its assets and simply decide to sell things off for a quick buck. The hospitals’ future is secure. I thank him for securing the debate and for the points that he has made. I have not answered them all, but I will, in either a meeting or a letter.

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Ronald Sutton
Posted on 17 Oct 2012 9:16 pm (Report this annotation)

As Sir John says, '[these hospitals] ...were founded between the two world wars with the outpouring of philanthropic and generous donations in remembrance particularly of those who suffered terrible injuries on such a huge scale during the first world war.

Thus the NHS has acquired assets funded by individuals contributions, not by state money. Under charity law (and these hospitals were clearly charities) a charity's assets must be safeguarded. Is there not, therefore a very strong moral obligation to hold these assets in trust for their respective local communities?