HC Deb 26 October 1993 vol 230 cc682-3
7. Mr. William O'Brien

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received on the future provision of health services by the Wakefield and Pontefract trust hospitals; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Sackville

We have received a number of letters, including one from the hon. Member.

Mr. O'Brien

The Minister is aware of the concerns and complaints that have been registered by the relatives and friends of elderly people who have been treated at the Pontefract and Pinderfields hospitals. When will he persuade his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to commence the public inquiry, which the right hon. Lady promised the people in my area, to investigate the allegations of mistreatment of the elderly at Pinderfields hospital? When will she also agree to the request that I made many months ago for a meeting to discuss the future of the hospitals and the medical care provided in the Wakefield area? Will the Minister investigate future provision for the mentally ill and the mentally disabled in the Pontefract and Wakefield areas?

Mr. Sackville

The hon. Gentleman is aware that I visited Pontefract twice in the past year. I am aware of three incidents involving elderly people in which care fell well below the standard we would expect. He is also aware, however, that the Nuffield Institute is investigating those cases and has contacted the families of patients of the past few years. An internal inquiry into those cases is also being led by two consultants from Manchester and Cornwall. If there are lessons to be learnt, we shall act on them, but if the hon. Gentleman visits the geriatric department now he will find little cause for concern.

Mr. Hinchliffe

Is the Minister aware that a great deal of concern is felt within the Wakefield and Pontefract areas, and throughout the country, about the impact of trust status and fund holding on community care? Has the Minister had the opportunity to read the reply published this morning by Values into Action, entitled "The Resettlement Game", which reveals conclusively that trust status is obstructing the process of providing community care for people with learning difficulties? Has the hon. Gentleman also had an opportunity to talk to Dr. David Tod, the president of the National Association of Fund Holding GPs, a prominent Tory who spoke at the Conservative conference in Blackpool about the value of fund holding? Has the Minister asked that doctor why he, along with certain other GPs has refused to take patients from mental handicap hospitals? Where does that leave the Government's community care policies?

Mr. Sackville

I am aware that there are a great number of GP fund holders in the hon. Gentleman's area, but that is nothing to be scared of and I would thank him for not putting around scare stories. I have no reason to believe that GP fund holders would take decisions that are not in the interests of their patients overall.