HC Deb 23 March 1993 vol 221 cc753-4
6. Mr. Luff

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS trusts are due to start in the west midlands region in April; and if she will make a statement.

Dr. Mawhinney

From 1 April, 15 units will become operational as national health service trusts in the West Midlands regional health authority. This will bring the total number of trusts in the region to 25.

Mr. Luff

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. I invite him to welcome the application from Worcester royal infirmary and my local ambulance service for trust status from April 1994. Does he agree that this will result in a significant improvement in the quality of health care for my constituents? Bearing in mind that trust hospitals in the West Midlands region have increased the number of patients treated by some 5 per cent. compared with a little over 3 per cent. for the region as a whole, does he agree that it is time that the Labour party applied the test set by the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook)—that trusts should be judged by the number of patients they treat—and admitted that the Opposition got it wrong and we got it right?

Dr. Mawhinney

My hon. Friend is absolutely right in all the points that he makes, particularly the last one. I have no doubt that his constituents will benefit from the fact that Worcester royal infirmary has applied for fourth-wave trust status. I know that he will be pleased, as I was, to learn that the West Midlands regional health authority has agreed a capital scheme for his district general hospital in Worcester, that it will not be affected by the capital moratorium and that work on it will start soon.

Mr. Burden

As the Government are now encouraging extra national health trusts in the west midlands, will the Minister comment on the assurances given by the former chair of West Midlands regional health authority—described by the Secretary of State as someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the health service—who said that no further trusts in the Birmingham area would be supported until a major hospital rebuilding programme was nearing completion because trusts were incompatible with strategic planning? What has changed? Is it the strategic planning which has gone out of the window or is it the hospital rebuilding programme? Or is it just another broken Tory promise?

Dr. Mawhinney

No, it is just another example of the incapability of the Labour party to put the patient first. In terms of the number of patients treated, waiting time figures and the quality of service offered to patients, all the evidence shows that trusts are delivering the quality of service that patients want. From this April, they will become the normal mode of delivering health care in this country. We know that the Opposition do not like that, but patients do.