HC Deb 09 December 2003 vol 415 cc900-1
5. Ms Oona King (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Lab

):What measures he is taking to improve general practitioner premises in east London. [142546]

The Secretary of State for Health (Dr. John Reid)

We have begun to transform the face of primary care in east London. In my hon. Friend's constituency, the local primary care trust is investing more than £1 million in opening, renewing and refurbishing general practice premises. By early next year, Tower Hamlets PCT will have opened three additional practices, bringing much-needed general practitioners to east London.

Ms King

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Clearly, I warmly welcome the new premises that are being replaced, refurbished and reopened. In places such as east London, however, many older GPs, often operating from single practices that were inadequately housed, are retiring, and we are having something of a problem in ensuring that the new premises are duly improved and in the right places. Can the Secretary of State write to me outlining what measures his Department might take to work more closely with developers, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and others involved in regeneration initiatives to ensure that we have improved premises in the areas that need them?

Dr. Reid

I will certainly undertake to write to my hon. Friend. In the meantime, I can say that she is absolutely right that we need to unleash the capacity that exists in the public or private sector to bring together all capabilities to address health care, whether that relates to buildings or other matters. She may know that we have developed a groundbreaking initiative for the NHS that is referred to as LIFT—the local improvement finance trust—to develop and encourage a new market for investment in primary care facilities. East London contains two LIFT projects, in Barking and Havering, which are bringing investment worth more than £47 million to London. Included in the east London scheme is a £4.9 million one-stop primary care centre in Church road, a £2.6 million primary care centre in Barking road and a £12 million one-stop primary care centre in Vicarage lane. All of that is vitally important, because if we do not put capacity into the NHS, we cannot give people the quality or choice that they should have.

Mr. Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con) rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. I have no wish to ignore the hon. Gentleman, but South Norfolk does not exactly come under east London.