HC Deb 18 February 1998 vol 306 cc1070-1
7. Mr. Rowlands

If he will make a statement on the reconfiguration of NHS trusts in Wales. [28405]

9. Mr. Denzil Davies

If he will make a statement on the progress of NHS trust reconfiguration in Wales. [28407]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Win Griffiths)

I launched the trust reconfiguration exercise to improve the quality of hospital and community health services in Wales through the establishment of a more effective and efficient structure of NHS trusts.

The review will lead to improvements in the planning and delivery of services to patients, the replacement of competition between trusts with a new collaborative approach, and the transfer of considerable resources from management and administration towards direct patient care.

Mr. Rowlands

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Bro Taf health authority proposal to merge East Glamorgan and North Glamorgan trusts commands no support? It does not command the support of the vast majority of clinical and medical staff, the community health councils or the communities. Instead of heeding the word of a quango, will my hon. Friend heed the words, wishes and feelings of the people of the communities that the trusts are supposed to serve, and those who serve in them?

Mr. Griffiths

The proposals made by every health authority in Wales will be considered by the group that I have set up to estimate what best can be made of their proposals. Where there are dissenting voices, the health authority has to report that to the group. I shall make decisions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State based on all the evidence, not just one proposal.

Mr. Davies

Is my hon. Friend aware—I think that he will be aware of it—that all the evidence from my constituency is against the recommendation of Dyfed Powys health authority to abolish the local hospital trust? There is much talk of consultation. If my right hon. Friend is looking for more evidence, will he consult the patients in my constituency, who will tell him the same thing?

Mr. Griffiths

Apart from addressing a meeting of about 400 people in Llanelli town hall, at which my right hon. Friend was present, I have visited the hospital, spoken to consultants, spoken to the campaign group and spoken to relatives of mine who have been patients at the hospital. All that will be taken into account when we consider the reconfiguration of trusts in my right hon. Friend's constituency.

Mr. Livsey

Given the Government's White Paper on the NHS, in the reconfiguration exercise, will the Minister please consider the total support of general practitioners in Powys for an NHS primary care trust? Will he assure me that he will not deny GPs their wishes?

Mr. Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman will know that I cannot make any such commitment from the Dispatch Box. I have before me many proposals affecting the whole of Wales. 1 shall consider all of them before I put concrete proposals to everyone in Wales for further consultation. I am determined that the £5 million to £10 million that can be made available for patient care as a result of the exercise is used as effectively as possible.

Mr. Llwyd

As health is to be one of the main responsibilities of the Welsh assembly, would it not be better to stand back and allow the reconfiguration to take place when the assembly has had time to look at it? It is surely bizarre that the new reconfiguration should come into being a few days before the assembly takes up its work.

Mr. Griffiths

The great advantage for members of the assembly will be that they will have an extra £5 million to £10 million a year to allocate to health services in Wales, thanks to our prompt action in carrying out the reconfiguration exercise.

Mr. John Smith

Is it lawful for the Cardiff Community Healthcare trust to take over the patient services at Sully hospital, which is owned by another health trust, before the reconfiguration and without any consultation whatsoever?

Mr. Griffiths

My hon. Friend knows that I have taken a close interest in what has been happening in his constituency; I can say that everything was done in a legal and correct manner, and that it will not affect any decisions that we have to make on the reconfiguration of trusts in his part of the world.