11 Oct 2007 11:29:20

Smaller General Hospitals

Tony_baldry Tony Baldry MP speaking in a deabte on Smaller General Hospitals, watched by about thirty campaigners in the gallery:

"I suspect that the Minister’s effective response to this debate will be short. In so far as the reconfiguration of local hospital services is concerned, I imagine that she will say, first, that such reconfiguration is a matter for local medical opinion, and, secondly, that Ministers will act in such matters on the advice of the independent reconfiguration panel. If the Minister were to say that, she would be wrong.

Local general practitioners are against the cuts, as are those hospital staff who have been able to speak out against them. Patients and local residents are petitioning and rallying against the cuts to general hospitals in their tens of thousands. In my constituency, local medical opinion is overwhelmingly against the proposed changes to services at Horton general hospital, but it has simply been ignored, and, although the existence of the IRP is welcome, it can, of course, only advise the Government within the policy parameters set by them. [...]

I believe that everyone can understand, after the turmoil of the junior doctors’ training fiasco and the somewhat patronising approach of the previous Secretary of State, that when the present Secretary of State came into office, he was keen to give the impression of drawing a line in the sand and to institute a year-long review of the national health service. I suppose he hoped that that would buy him time to sort out what was going on in the NHS, to try to understand why so much extra investment has led to so little by way of improved outcomes and, in the meantime, to try to shuffle off any difficult decisions to the IRP. Indeed, a study published at the beginning of this month found that health services in the UK are some of the worst in Europe. The UK is in the same league as countries such as Slovenia and Hungary, which spend far less on health, and is languishing below Estonia and the Czech Republic in respect of health care."

More from Hansard here.