HL Deb 03 December 2001 vol 629 cc99-101WA
Earl Howe

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have for the continued operation and use of the bi-plane angiography machine in the cardiac catheterisation laboratory of the London Heart Hospital; and [HL1307]

What were the strategic reasons for the purchase of the London Heart Hospital; whether other options that might have enabled the National Health Service to use the facilities of this hospital, short of outright purchase, were considered; and if so, why those options were rejected; and [HL1308]

Whether the specialised treatment facilities at the London Heart Hospital can be integrated as necessary with the facilities of the University College London Hospitals Trust in a manner that fully safeguards the care of patients; and [HL1309]

Whether the terms of purchase of the London Heart Hospital included the collection of fine art located therein; and [HL1310]

Whether the University College London Hospitals Trust prepared a business case prior to the agreement to acquire the London Heart Hospital; and if so, whether they will publish that business case. [HL1311]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)

The London Heart Hospital was acquired by the National Health Service taking advantage of a short-term commercial opportunity which existed earlier in the year as the owners sought to dispose of the hospital, which was making significant financial losses.

An option to lease the hospital was initially explored. However, it was understood that the parent company was on the verge of placing the hospital into administration. A judgment was made that an outright purchase represented both the best value for the NHS and the only secure way to obtain the continuing use of the facilities as a hospital available to the NHS in the short time-frame apparent before administration.

Therefore, the opportunity was taken to significantly increase cardiac and cardiology capacity in London and the South East in a state of the art hospital which was rebuilt and equipped in 1998, and at a purchase price below the district valuer's valuation. Increasing capacity in this way provides further facilities to reduce waiting lists in the NHS. It also provides patient care in a modern hospital with outstanding patient facilities.

The hospital has been operational as a NHS facility since 1 October when services in the Middlesex Hospital moved to the Heart Hospital.

Sufficient evidence was gathered in the time available prior to purchase, consistent with the exceptional circumstances surrounding the opportunity for acquisition, which demonstrated the benefits of a speedy and cost-efficient purchase for the NHS.

As a multi-site trust, University College London Hospital is accustomed to making arrangements to ensure the safety of patients who require the care of more than one clinical speciality. The safety of patients who require the care of more than one clinical speciality. The safety of patients at all its sites is the trust's highest priority.

Prior to the transfer of cardiac services from the Middlesex Hospital site to the Heart Hospital site, revised protocols were developed to continue to provide non-cardiac patients with acccess to specialist cardiological care. A coronary care unit remains on the University College Hospital site and is attended daily by a consultant cardiologist.

Arrangements were also put in place for non-cardiac specialist clinical staff to contribute to the care of those patients at the Heart Hospital where necessary.

The critical care facility at the Heart Hospital is closely allied to the other critical care facilities in the trust and shares common clinical practices and rotates staff.

The NHS acquisition of the Heart Hospital included the entire asset register. This included a number of works of art. There were 183 items and they were collectively valued on the register at £76,826. All are still at the hospital. There are no plans to move them.

The Heart Hospital has three cardiac catheter laboratories—two monoplanes and one biplane. The biplane allows two views of the heart at right angles to be taken simultaneously, and is used for more complex diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. These procedures are commonly performed on congenital heart disease patients, but can also be advantageous for use in electrophysiology patients. Although the Heart Hospital, since its acquisition by the NHS, does not treat paediatric patients, it has a large congenital heart disease workload—which it is planned to extend—and also undertakes electrophysiology work. The biplane laboratory can also be used for undertaking routine cardiology procedures. The laboratory in which the biplane is situated will therefore be in constant use once the Heart Hospital is working to its full capacity.