HC Deb 30 March 1999 vol 328 cc855-6
13. Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

When he expects to announce the conclusion of his Department's reviews affecting regional specialist units at hospital in the borough of Hillingdon. [77711]

The Secretary of the State for Health (Mr. frank Dobson)

The Turnberg report on the future of London's health services recommended a thorough review of specialist health services in west London. We accepted all the Turnberg recommendations, including that one. A group covering all the specialist services involved is now considering how best to provide top-quality patient services, teaching and research in that area, which includes Harefield hospital in Hillingdon. The hon. Gentleman will, I hope, be reassured to know that I have discussed the review with Sir Magdi Yacoub on two occasions, that he is content with the proposals and that I have given him my personal undertaking that NHS funding will be available to help to fund the heart sciences centre and the patient services centre at Harefield.

Mr. Wilkinson

I am most grateful to the Secretary of State for that reply, particularly with regard to Harefield. However, I turn his attention to the future of the regional specialty for burns and plastic surgery at Mount Vernon hospital. There is a grave discrepancy between the right hon. Gentleman's boasts that he will take into account local opinions on the siting of services, and the blithe disregard for the wishes of local people as expressed in a petition with more than 80,000 signatures, as well as an early-day motion in my name and a deputation to the former Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn).

Will the right hon. Gentleman now assure us that he will invest in centres of excellence such as Mount Vernon and Harefield, rather than putting all his eggs in the basket of the private finance initiative hospital, which may be seductive for the financiers, but is not necessarily the most cost-effective option?

Mr. Dobson

The future of the burns and plastic surgery unit at Mount Vernon hospital is being considered by an expert advisory group. The group has not yet reported back even to Hillingdon health authority. If local people and the community health council are opposed to the proposals, the decision will eventually rest with me. No decisions have been made. I shall, in line with the Turnberg recommendations, make sure that the best health services for treatment, training and research are available in west London. That may or may not mean that there will be changes at Mount Vernon. I do not know at the moment because I have not received the advisory group's report.

Mr. Tony McNulty (Harrow, East)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the future of specialist treatment centres such as the burns and plastics unit at Mount Vernon would have been better assured if, in 1996, before the election, the Tories had not closed the hospital's accident and emergency department?

Mr. Dobson


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