HC Deb 17 June 1997 vol 296 c107
10. Mr. Ernie Ross

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to improve the management efficiency of NHS trusts. [2338]

Mr. Galbraith

The Government are determined to make progress in reducing the costs of managing the national health service. We have made clear our intention to replace the internal market. The details of our proposals will be contained in a White Paper to be published in the autumn. In the meantime, we have already taken action to release £10 million of savings in bureaucracy to reduce waiting lists and deal with emergency admissions, particularly in the winter months.

Mr. Ross

I congratulate my hon. Friend on moving so quickly to meet some of Labour's manifesto commitments. What efforts has he made to halt the creeping privatisation of clinical services in the national health service in Scotland?

Mr. Galbraith

The most important thing to say is that there will never, never be a repeat of the Stonehaven process under this Government. Clinical services will never again go out to the private finance initiative.

Mr. Ian Bruce

The Government are trying to save £100 million in the health service by cutting managers and clerical workers. How many will have to be sacked to achieve that saving?

Mr. Galbraith

The hon. Gentleman is talking about the NHS throughout the United Kingdom; the equivalent figure for Scotland, for which I have responsibility, is £10 million. We have already made it clear that if there are to be any job losses we hope that they will happen through natural wastage, voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

Mr. David Marshall

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his splendid announcement yesterday about the financing of the new maternity unit at Glasgow royal infirmary, which brings to an end 18 years of wrangling and inefficiency. Does he realise how welcome it is to people in the east end of Glasgow? How soon does he expect construction work to commence and how long will it take to complete the unit?

Mr. Galbraith

I want, first, to recognise the considerable effort that my hon. Friend has put into the project, fighting for his constituents in the east end of Glasgow. That is why I was especially happy to make the announcement. I hope that work will start extremely soon. The first patients will be admitted in 2000 and I hope to open the unit then.