HC Deb 11 December 1991 vol 200 cc855-6
15. Mr. Nigel Griffiths

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what further representations he has received on hospitals applying for trust status.

Mr. Lang

My hon. Friend the Minister of State and I regularly receive representations, both for and against, on the subject of NHS trusts. I have now approved three applications.

Mr. Griffiths

Does the Secretary of State agree with Duncan McNeill, whom he appointed to promote his hospital trusts, that trust status provides an alternative to operating and remaining within the mainstream national health service? Does he realise that for patients throughout Scotland, including those in the Edinburgh royal infirmary and the Royal hospital for sick children, that is a chilling message?

Mr. Lang

I have a great admiration for Mr. Duncan McNeill, and also a great approbation for the concept of trust status for hospitals. Contrary to the rumours constantly spread by the Labour party, such hospitals remain in the national health service and continue to provide a free service at the point of delivery.

Mr. Galbraith

Is the Secretary of State aware that the first wave of opt-outs in England were examined by Coopers and Lybrand, which found that 45 of the 57 were financially non-viable? Was a similar exercise carried out in Scotland? If so, will the Secretary of State make the results publicly available? If not, why not? Is this another example of the Government opting out, as they do in Europe?

Mr. Lang

The hon. Gentleman is talking nonsense and yet again trying to mislead the public on the achievements of hospital trusts. The fact is that those hospitals south of the border that have achieved trust status are now delivering more patient care, recruiting more consultants and buying more equipment, and improving the service that they provide to the public in their areas.