HC Deb 18 March 1997 vol 292 cc722-4
Q3. Mr. Corbyn

To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to pay an official visit to a London NHS hospital to discuss the operation of casualty units. [19193]

The Prime Minister

We have made an extensive investment in recent years in London's accident and emergency services as part of a £400 million capital investment to provide the highest-quality and up-to-date facilities. I hope to have the opportunity to see some of them before too long.

Mr. Corbyn

When the Prime Minister finally gets around to visiting a casualty unit in a London hospital, what answer will he give to staff who have seen one in seven of all the acute beds in London lost, 12 of the 46 casualty units closed, huge waiting lists, people waiting on trolleys, loss of morale among staff and the recent resignation of the consultant in charge of the casualty unit at Queen Mary's University hospital, Roehampton, who left because he could no longer run it within the budget provided and did not feel that he was giving people a decent service? Is that not the reason why nobody trusts him and his Government on the future of the national health service and will accordingly vote him out?

The Prime Minister

I think that the first advice that I would give them is not to vote Labour, because they are getting more money from this Government than they would from any putative Labour Government. I would tell them that the number of consultants in A and E departments has risen dramatically by 40 per cent. I would tell them that the number of nurses appointed had risen by 21 per cent. I would tell them that more patients are being treated. I would tell them that the hon. Gentleman is living proof that old Labour lives, because, while the Labour Front Benchers are saying that they will not raise taxes, he is saying: What … many"— including the hon. Gentleman— have been talking about is the need to raise taxation for the above average income people in order to pay for the rest. I see a moral justification for that and I think it is the right thing to do. That may be what he tells the consultants, but it is not what the right hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) tells the consultants.