HC Deb 30 June 1998 vol 315 cc131-2
1. Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow)

If he will visit south Shropshire to assess the effect upon the local community of proposals to reduce the range of facilities available at Kidderminster hospital. [46601]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Paul Boateng)

The ministerial team conducts a wide-ranging programme of regional visits. I take particular interest in the west midlands, as the hon. Gentleman will know. I have no immediate plans to visit south Shropshire.

Mr. Gill

My constituents will be disappointed by that reply. I and they are conscious of the fact that Kidderminster hospital is not the only hospital in this country to be facing either closure or cuts. There are many testimonials to the Labour party's broken election promises. May I remind the Minister of what his colleague the hon. Member for Wyre Forest (Mr. Lock) said during the election campaign? He said: We will only prevent further cuts at Kidderminster if the Government provides enough money to the Health Authority to fund the hospital"?

Mr. Boateng

The hon. Gentleman well knows that the agenda at Kidderminster is not a cuts agenda. He is well aware—because he has been a party to them—of the discussions that have taken place between his health authority and all parties interested in the Kidderminster hospital. Submissions will come to Ministers in due course, and decisions will be taken in the best interests of all the people of Kidderminster.

Mr. David Lock (Wyre Forest)

Is not a high standard of care provided by the staff and management at Kidderminster, which led to that hospital getting a charter mark last year? Does not the hospital deserve praise for its fall in emergency admissions? In comparison, every other hospital in the west midlands has seen rises. Will my hon. Friend accept the thanks of my constituents for the extra £13.5 million of Government money provided since the election to Worcestershire health authority, which will give the possibility of options for Kidderminster? Must not all those important factors be taken into account by his right hon. and hon. Friends when deciding the best configuration for acute services in the county?

Mr. Boateng

My hon. Friend is a stout defender of the interests of the NHS in his constituency, and I join him in thanking all those who have contributed to the success of the hospital and its earning of a charter mark. The Government are committed to making sure that there is investment year on year in the NHS to enable its staff to deliver the high-quality health care that is the due of each and every person in this country. That is why the Government have found an additional £2 billion for the NHS since the last general election—money that the Conservative party would never have found.

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