§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. John Horam)
In 1994–95, there were 49,873 finished consultant episodes—in-patient and day cases—at Basildon and Thurrock General Hospitals NHS trust. In addition, there were 158,552 out-patient attendances.
§ Mr. Amess
Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating the hospital on achieving the shortest 528 waiting list time in Essex? Does my hon. Friend agree that Basildon hospital's success in achieving trust status may be judged by the 14 extra consultants employed in the past year, the 35 extra nurses, the opening of a new postgraduate centre, the award of a charter mark for its X-ray services and the 23 per cent. increase in patients treated?
§ Mr. Mackinlay
Did the Minister see that the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) recently called for the sacking of the Basildon hospital management? How does the Minister square that with his most recent remarks?
Will the Minister also note that, as a result of the health authority closing the Orsett hospital accident and emergency department in the new Basildon constituency, my constituents in Thurrock and the constituents of Billericay and Basildon must wait five, six or sometimes seven hours in the accident and emergency department of Basildon hospital? Is he proud of that? Does he share the opinion of the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth and me that it is a lousy hospital, which needs to be reformed and differently managed?
§ Mr. Horam
The hon. Gentleman should bring his facts up to date. The episodes that he complains about were in 1992. They were apologised for at the time—and rightly so; they were extremely regrettable episodes. Those hospitals have reformed their procedures and, since then, put in the performance that I and my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess) described.
The hon. Gentleman neglected to mention the fact that Orsett hospital has been reconsidered and will be made into a big community hospital, that a new minor injuries unit will start soon and that day surgery will be retained. In other words, my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon was wrong; the area has two great hospitals, not one.
§ Mrs. Gorman
May I divorce myself from the derogatory and disgraceful remarks made by the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) about the hospitals in my constituency? I remind the hon. Gentleman, as well as my hon. Friend the Minister, of the wonderful service being done by the Thameside health authority, which covers the community needs of our area. It has recently provided almost 100 new beds for the elderly infirm. They therefore do not block hospital beds in the mainstream hospitals, with the result that we have practically no complaints as sitting Members about bed blocking, which cannot be said for many trusts in Labour-dominated areas.