§ Mr. Christopher Price
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the serious impairment to National Health Service standards, including the risk to life, at King's College Hospital in South London".I do not know how many hon. Members were able to see yesterday the programme "World in Action", but for those who did, it revealed a situation of crisis which I believe is important, specific and urgent. Among incidents revealed were the endangering of life by inadequately trained agency nurses, the inability to provide constant nursing care for seriously ill patients, serious under-staffing of all wards, and individuals dying while waiting for operations.
Though I would have a number of serious reservations about the balance of the programme, and I would rebut the charge of any general breakdown in the National Health Service, a situation has been revealed in which very serious dangers to health and, in some circumstances, life exist. This shows that the circumstances are specific and urgent.
But the matter is important on a wider level, because it reveals a crisis on two particular levels. The first is that cuts in public expenditure which have affected the 1356 NHS over past years are now coming home to roost, and the associated quite proper efforts, through the Resource Allocation Working Party, to redistribute what are totally inadequate resources to less advantaged areas are at present crippling parts of the NHS in the Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham area, and probably in many other parts of the country, too. The Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Area Health Authority is currently, on top of this very serious situation being revealed, being expected this year to reduce its expenditure by £2 million.
This matter is important for one other reason. That is that it reveals the complete inability of the management structure of the NHS—which was reorganised in a bureaucratic and inefficient manner, not by the Labour Party but by the previous Conservative Administration—to secure the proper distribution of NHS facilities and to prevent the sort of appalling frictions between the medical and nursing professions which were revealed in the programme of yesterday.
I submit that any situation which reveals a lack of space in intensive care units, which can admit of incidents in which ill-trained nurses can accidentally feed drugs into a patient's artery when they should have gone into a vein, in which a consultant can talk of 24 avoidable deaths in a year, is just one of those urgent and specific matters which justify an emergency debate. I submit that a case has been made for that.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) gave me notice before 12 o'clock today that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,the serious impairment to National Health Service standards, including the risk to life at King's College Hospital in South London".I listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman said. As the House knows, it is not for me to decide whether this matter is to be debated but merely whether it is to be debated tonight or tomorrow. That is all the discretion that lies in my hands. I have to rule that I cannot submit the hon. Member's application to the House.