§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Stephen Dorrell)
The standards of service which national health service providers, including trusts, are expected to meet are defined in their contracts with purchasing health authorities.
§ Mr. Cryer
Will the Minister confirm that the sad story of the Bradford trust so far includes a freeze on the recruitment of nurses, which has meant that newly qualified nurses have been sacked and that wards 5 and 6 of Bierley Hall hospital have been closed or will be closed despite a refurbishment of £100,000? That scandalous waste of resources also includes the closure of the baby unit at St. Lukes. Does the Minister recall that during the 147 Gulf war, the Secretary of State said that as much money as necessary would be made available for the casualties of that war? Why does he not provide money for the casualties of the NHS trusts and ensure that patient care is improved, rather than squandering it on antidemocratic, anti-NHS trusts such as that in Bradford?
§ Mr. Dorrell
The hon. Gentleman asks for more money and I am pleased to confirm that the Bradford trust has been granted the largest external financing limit of any trust in the NHS. The capital allocation to the Bradford trust will provide for the completion of phase 1(a) at a cost of £23 million in 1993, the completion of phase 1(b) at a cost of £30 million in 1997 and the completion of that entire project, costing a further £11 million, before the end of the decade. In addition, a £44 million redevelopment programme for the Bradford royal infirmary has been planned. All that is equivalent to nearly £110 million capital investment in Bradford's hospitals in this decade. I should have hoped that the hon. Gentleman would welcome that.
§ Mr. Dickens
Is not it a fact that, since 1 April, 57 hospitals and other units, including those in Bradford, have become NHS trusts? Quality of service and patient care is on the agenda. How can that show that we are in the wrong direction? I am grateful that Oldham and Rochdale have elected for NHS trust status.
§ Mr. Dorrell
My hon. Friend is right. The trusts present the opportunity for the management and the staff of units to use the resources available to them to the best possible advantage of the patient. The Labour party uses the rhetoric of the opportunity society, but it uses every occasion to deny those seeking such opportunities the means to take advantage of them.
§ Mr. Madden
Why have all the Government's promises about the benefits of the NHS trust in Bradford gone so sour? The reality is that, this year, there have been cuts of £5 million and swingeing cuts have been planned for the next two years with a deterioration in the quality of patient care. Why are the Government not injecting the necessary funding now to avoid those cuts taking place? Why are they not defending the NHS in Bradford?
§ Mr. Dorrell
The hon. Gentleman seems unable to welcome the investment of £108 million in the capital provision for health in his constituency in this decade, but perhaps he will find it easier to welcome the fact that waiting lists in his constituency have been cut by 8 per cent. in the latest year for which figures are available and that the total number of people who have been waiting for more than a year has been cut by 37 per cent.