HC Deb 16 July 1991 vol 195 cc208-9
5. Mr. Jessel

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hospitals applied for and were granted trust status in the first wave; and how many have expressed interest in possible inclusion in the second and third waves.

Mr. Waldegrave

A total of 66 hospitals and other units applied for trust status in the first wave, of which 57 were established as trusts on 1 April this year; 130 expressions of interest were received for inclusion in the second wave, and 107 applications have been submitted. We also expect five or six first-wave candidates which were not established to resubmit their applications. We have not yet asked for formal expressions of interest in the third wave.

Mr. Jessel

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that, of the four district general hospitals that serve Twickenham, Kingston already has trust status, Ashford has applied for it in the second wave, and West Middlesex and Queen Mary's Roehampton, hospitals intend to apply for it in the third stage? Does he agree that that great enthusiasm for trust status is despite the efforts of Labour politicians to intimidate those national health service staff who might wish to be involved?

Mr. Waldegrave

The fact that so many hospitals are applying for trust status shows that the staff involved have not been intimidated. We had to make the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) back down from his threats before the House on one occasion. I am delighted to say that, as my hon. Friend already knows, Kingston hospital NHS trust has already reduced the number of long waiters from 2,000 to 400 and the new building will be open this year, and the other applications are coming forward. In the case of Ashford, trust status was strongly supported by more than 80 per cent. of the consultants.

Mr. Battle

Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be better to sort out what is happening with the first wave before considering another wave? Where trust status has been granted, as in the case of Leeds general infirmary, the impact has been the loss of 10 beds in Cookridge cancer hospital and eight night staff being told on 14 June, without any prior notification, that their jobs were to go. Is not that what is happening?

Mr. Waldegrave

No. The trust hospitals are matching good management to problems which have often existed for many years, and we are seeing quicker and better solutions to those problems for the benefit of patients. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would welcome that.

Mr. Wiggin

Weston-super-Mare general hospital was fortunate enough to achieve trust status in the first round, the trust is working extremely well and I can reasonably claim that the people of that excellent town are receiving better health care than ever before, but will my right hon. Friend discourage the regional health authority from seeking to remove some of the peripheral hospitals such as Burnham-on-Sea and Axbridge simply in the interests of tidy bureaucracy?

Mr. Waldegrave

As my hon. Friend would expect, being a relatively near neighbour I am well aware of the issue and I shall look at it closely. I am also aware that the trust is doing extremely well and bringing new benefits to patients every week.

Mr. Robin Cook

The Secretary of State will be aware that one of the hospitals included in the figures that he has announced for the second wave is King's College hospital in Camberwell. Since the changes in April, that hospital has been on red alert and closed to routine cases. Before the Secretary of State considers that hospital for a trust, will he reconsider the three invitations to visit the hospital that he has refused? Would it not be better for the Secretary of State to visit that hospital in financial crisis rather than spend time tomorrow only half a mile away from it at the Dulwich picture gallery, where he is opening an exhibition of portraits of old Etonians?

Mr. Waldegrave

That is a very heavyweight contribution. The hon. Gentleman is going to a meeting at King's College hospital tomorrow, and the leaflets advertising his presence contain untruths. I hope that he will take the opportunity to dissociate himself from those leaflets, which say: King's College hospital to opt out of the national health service. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is a lie. He has backed down on the point before and I hope that he will do so again now.

The hon. Gentleman recently made another unsuccessful visit, to Oldham hospital, to campaign against the consultants who wished the hospital to be a trust. He said then that a Labour Government would pour money into the NHS—[Interruption.] Oh yes, he did—I have the quote with me. A local newspaper reported the hon. Gentleman as saying: A Labour Government would pour money into the NHS. On a recent visit to the British Medical Association, the hon. Gentleman said that additional expenditure of £6 billion was not out of the ball park, but when he was asked on "Panorama" where the money would come from, he said: These are questions … that you will have to address to John Smith, who is my colleague"— there may be some doubt about that— who handles the Exchequer questions. May we have answers from the Member who is responsible for those matters?