HC Deb 22 June 1993 vol 227 cc112-3W
Mr. Gale

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she plans to publish the reports of the six reviews of specialties in London; and what role their advice will play in decisions about the future of hospital services in London.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

The specialty reviews will be published in full tomorrow and copies will be placed in the Library and Vote Office at 10.30 am. The chairmen of the review teams will hold a press conference to coincide with the publication.

The Government set out their proposals for improving the National Health Service in London in "Making London Better", published on 16 February, copies of which are available in the Library. The specialty reviews were announced then, in response to a recommendation in Sir Bernard Tomlinson's report. The independent review teams were established to address the extensive duplication and fragmentation of services in six specialties (cancer; cardiac; neurosciences; renal; plastic surgery and children's specialist services) and make recommendations on their future disposition. Their reports are independent advice to Ministers and the NHS, not statements of Government policy.

Work on developing the proposals set out in "Making London Better" has progressed well since February. The recommendations of the specialty reviews represent a further necessary stage in that process, but not its conclusion. The review recommendations will form part of a complex jigsaw of factors informing decisions about the future pattern of services in London. The recommendations will be fed into the local process—already well under way—of developing sensible and sustainable proposals which meet the Government's objectives of improved patient care, support for excellence in teaching and research and value for money. Academic interests must be taken into account. Above all, proposals must be supported by NHS purchasers, reflecting patient preferences through the internal health market. No decisions are being taken to close any hospital, or make major service changes, on the basis of the specialty reviews alone.

"Making London Better" set out a timetable for long-term change. Clearly, some issues will be resolved more quickly than others. We anticipate that the main proposals for the future configuration of services will be put forward in the autumn. Proposals for major changes to services would, of course, he subject to full statutory public consultation, according to established procedures.