§ Mr. Wilshire
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the pay differentials between staff of the Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust based at(a) Ashford and (b) Chertsey; 
(2) what plans he has to provide the resources needed to enable the Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust to implement the recommendations in the Commission for Health Improvement report on the trust's maternity services; 
(3) if he will make a statement on the progress made with the implementation of the Franchise Plan for the Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust; 
(4) what discussions have taken place between his officials and officers of the Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust about the possibility of opening a midwife-led maternity unit at Ashford Hospital; 
(5) what discussions have taken place between his officials and officers of the Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust about Dr. Kevin Gangar. 
§ Ms Blears
[holding answer 19 May 2003]: The Government's policy is to put as much National Health Service funding as possible at the front-line. In 2003ndash;04, the Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority (SHA) area will receive a recurrent allocation of £2,269 million, a 9.29 per cent, cash terms increase on the previous year. The maternity unit at the Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust is currently undergoing a £1.4 million programme of modernisation and refurbishment.735W
It is a matter for the trust, working with the SHA, to produce and implement an action plan for the recommendations made by the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI). It is understood that the trust is in the process of doing this.
Advice from the SHA suggests that significant progress has been made on the franchise plan for Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust. Since the plan was agreed the trust has:Implemented a £10 million capital programme, including additional theatre capacity at Ashford Hospital and Medical Assessment Unit at St. Peter's Hospital.Improved recruitment and retention.Improved communications with staff and stakeholders.Agreed capacity plans with local primary care trusts.Moved from being a zero star to one star trust.
It is understood that the trust, as part of a wider review of services on its two sites, will be considering the viability of a midwifery-led maternity unit at Ashford Hospital in addition to planning enhancements to ante-and post-natal services at Ashford. Issues such as paediatric cover and midwife recruitment must also be considered to make improvements to the unit at St. Peter's Hospital, following publication of the CHI investigation report.
The responsibility for the disciplining of doctors is a matter for the employing trust, which will take into account the outcome of General Medical Council hearings.
It is understood that prior to Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust merger, Ashford Hospital paid staff a London weighting allowance whereas St. Peter's Hospital did not. This differential has gradually been phased out as employees move but some are still affected. The Agenda for Change initiative provides the trust with an opportunity to address this differential.