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Division No. 268
[1.3 am


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burns, Simon
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Drew, David
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fyfe, Maria
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Hepburn, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S
Kilfoyle, Peter
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Roy, Frank
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Sawford, Phil
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Watts, David
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Don Touhig and
Mr. Jim Dowd.


Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Corbyn, Jeremy
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Leigh, Edward
Shepherd, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Eric Forth and
Mr. Christopher Chope.

Question accordingly agreed to.

13 Jul 2000 : Column 1264

Bill read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of Bills),

Question agreed to.

Committee on Monday 17 July.

13 Jul 2000 : Column 1265


Queen's recommendation having been signified--

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52(1)(a) (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills),

Question agreed to.


Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.

13 Jul 2000 : Column 1266

Farnham and Haslemere Hospitals

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.--[Mr. Mike Hall.]

1.15 am

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley (South-West Surrey): I had intended to say how grateful I was to Madam Speaker for choosing me for an Adjournment debate that should have taken place at 7 pm on Thursday. It is now 1.15 am. Although I am still grateful to Madam Speaker--I shall miss her greatly when she steps down--you will understand, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that 1.15 am is rather different from 7 o'clock in the evening.

I wish to speak on a subject of the most profound and serious concern to my constituency. In my 16 years in the House, I cannot recall an occasion on which I have had more letters containing greater depth, detail, responsible argument and increasing anger. They are about the complex consultation exercise that the health authority has introduced, most of which will take place over the summer recess. This is almost my last opportunity to raise the issue in the House before then.

I wish to discuss the future of community nursing, mental health services and the provision of care in West Surrey as well as in north and mid-Hampshire. Much of the complex detail has not been thought through or carefully argued, but the proposal is that there should be no community beds in the hospitals in Farnham, a town serving more than 40,000 people, and Haslemere, the town with the highest elderly population in Surrey whose hospital also serves people from Sussex and Hampshire. It is suggested that there should be a temporary reprieve for Milford hospital, an isolated hospital far from a local community and with no available transport services.

The proposals have been made following the Government's election and less than two years after the health authority came forward with plans, after careful and detailed deliberation and debate, that at Farnham there certainly would be a 42-bed community hospital, a stroke rehabilitation unit and a day hospital. At that time, the health authority chairman and the other members of the team gave their word that those plans would settle the future of Farnham hospital. I have just looked at the trust's publication for the plans for the health service in that area for 1999-2000. It, too, reasserts the commitment to Farnham hospital and its future.

I issued a leaflet shortly before Christmas to confirm with the trust that the plans for the hospital would still proceed, and I was given the affirmation that they would. I make my points with strong feeling, because I worked extremely hard--for well over 100 hours--with the people across the area to lower their expectations. People need to understand that change is necessary and that the patterns of the past cannot continue in the future. I had the absolute assurance that the plans would go ahead and, after much pressure and persuasion, people were prepared to accept the project for a 42-bed hospital which is now apparently to be abandoned.

Such a level of betrayal has profoundly affronted people across the Waverley area and West Surrey. That is particularly so because the community hospitals in the north of the area--in Weybridge, Woking and elsewhere--are to be saved. Worse than that, in the Hampshire health authority across the border, the Fleet hospital will continue to have community beds.

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I wish to quote Dr. Raw, one of the most distinguished and long-standing general practitioners in Farnham. He is not given to militant language, but he said that

Mary Neville of West street, Farnham, said

In the Haslemere area, Dr. Taylor--an extremely distinguished senior partner--explains:

I have been overwhelmed by letters, and I can only apologise to my constituents that it is not possible for me to do justice to the great number who have spoken to me.

There have been a series of meetings in Farnham and Haslemere. Only with reluctance did the health authority chairman attend. However, he came and, I hope, was taken aback by what he heard. The letters that I have received show that people do not believe that the health authority was responsive, listening or behaving in the way we are now told it should in terms of partnership and trying to regain public confidence in the health service.

Mrs. Green of Brambletonn avenue, Farnham, said:

The local feeling has been inflamed by successive comments from the Government, suggesting that the direction of travel is one that is sympathetic to the concerns of local people. The Secretary of State, in his new health network speech of 6 June, referred to the national plan: an unfortunately chosen name, following George Brown's national plan. The right hon. Gentleman said that the audit will confirm that older people are currently poorly served by the lack of intermediate care beds, with up to a fifth of hospital beds occupied by patients who could be getting better care elsewhere. That is the case in Farnham and Haslemere, and local people are up in arms.

Recently, an Audit Commission report confirmed the need for the facilities that are currently available at Farnham and Haslemere. Of course intermediate care is a sensible idea, and we should care for people in the community wherever possible. But, as with mental health services, there is a need for some beds and some community beds. The idea that nursing homes can pick

13 Jul 2000 : Column 1268

up the strain, with their fragmented provision and without the integrated care pathway and the coherent care given by nurses in the community hospital who have a close working relationship with GPs, is ridiculous. It would lead to enormous pressure on GPs.

There is already tremendous difficulty in finding nursing home places and this has been exacerbated by deliberate policies from the Government. In my area, under this Government, we have seen a severe deterioration in services. I am afraid that the Government are not given to openness in information, but I pay a warm tribute to the Library. Time and again, I ask either the health authority or Ministers for information that they are simply not prepared to give. Somehow, miraculously, the Library seems able to find it.

Let us discuss equity. One person in eight has been waiting for in-patient treatment in West Surrey. In the Prime Minister's area of Durham, the figure is one in a hundred. I do not think that that represents equity and neither do my constituents. I have always regarded the number of people waiting for more than a year as the absolute test for an adequate health service. I say that partly because, when I was a Health Minister, the number waiting for one year went from 200,000 to 4,000. I wish that I had eliminated the waiting list altogether. Since the election, the percentage waiting more than a year has doubled in West Surrey. The number of finished consultant episodes went up by 0.8 per cent. in my area and by 5 per cent. in Durham. The number of district nurses and health visitors per thousand of population rose in Durham and fell in West Surrey.

Behind those figures lies the fact that the Government have taken steps further to distort the funding formula, so the gap between West Surrey and Durham is now £115 a head. The Government have top-sliced more and allowed less to come out in the distribution so that they can fund projects such as the £12 million census on the NHS, which was met with derision by health staff and members of the public. That sum would have covered the £7 million that my health authority has been told that it needs to find.

Dr. Taylor commented that the £583 per capita payment for people in West Surrey is due to fall further to £570. There are 632,000 people in West Surrey, so if the payment falls by that £13 a head, the amount raised will be £8.2 million, which would also cover the £7 million needed by the health authority. However one looks at the figures, there is a postcode lottery for health care funding.

The Minister will say that there are many prosperous people in my constituency, and that is true, but there are many impoverished people, and they live in a high cost area. I fail to understand why somebody living on social security in an area such as mine should have a much worse service than somebody living on income support in the Prime Minister's constituency. Mrs. Daphne White, of Long Garden place in Farnham, put it well when she said that

I am afraid that local people feel very bitter indeed.

After I had spoken to the Secretary of State and many other Ministers, and said that in three years there had been no ministerial visit to West Surrey and that I did not believe that that indicated proper stewardship of the

13 Jul 2000 : Column 1269

health service, the Under-Secretary finally arrived. Her visit coincided with the opening of a side ward at the accident and emergency unit. I thought that she would like to know what the situation was in June at the A and E unit at the Royal Surrey County hospital.

Mr. Groves wrote to me to say that on 28 and 29 June he spent 34 hours in the A and E unit: 10 hours on a hard stretcher and 24 hours on a bed. While he was there, he was told that at one particular time some 20 patients were on stretchers outside the A and E ward. There was no flu epidemic and it was not winter.

We have an excellent general practitioner in Haslemere, Dr. Ridsdill Smith, who says that the casualty department at the Royal Surrey County hospital is under such pressure that patients are routinely left on trolleys overnight or, more recently, on allocated chairs. Besides the increased risk of bedsores and the danger of leaving cardiac patients in casualty, there is the sheer depravity of 50 ill people sharing one loo and shower. The hospital is undergoing a bed crisis in midsummer. There is no capacity to decrease chair and trolley numbers, let alone community beds.

There has been a rearguard action to try to pretend that the Royal Surrey has problems of its own. My hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. St. Aubyn) has spoken eloquently about the hospital's excellence, strength and efficiency. It is under huge pressure to control its financial difficulties, which are caused by a formula that gives the region, which consists of a dispersed rural area as well as town centres, so savage steps have been taken.

The number of beds has declined by 12 per cent., from 350 to 307 since the Government have been in power. There was a slight reduction before they came to office. In addition, the number of beds to which patients can be discharged has been further reduced by 25, so the overall number of beds available in the Royal Surrey area has gone from 472 to 404--that is, 68 fewer beds, or a 14 per cent. reduction. That is why it is intolerable for people to be told that they may lose the community beds that are available for their use.

Let me make some points clear. I am not opposed to intermediate care, but it cannot cope with the unmet demand that we now face, let alone the extra demand from an ageing population. Intermediate care on the scale proposed is totally untried and untested.

I am not opposed to the health staff. Indeed, I have the highest praise and admiration for the nurses, doctors and other health staff. It is their distress, which has been communicated to me with great intensity over the past two years, that led me to see the Secretary of State privately before Christmas and to raise the matter repeatedly in the House. I remain deeply unhappy that the Government seem so extraordinarily insensitive to these matters.

The Godwin unit at Haslemere is a rehabilitation unit for young disabled people. I opened it myself. It was a rehabilitation project near the town, offering the quality of care and attention that was considered the most suitable. People there are being told that they might have an interim move to Milford, before moving on to an acute hospital.

Why are people so angry? They are angry because services have deteriorated to an unacceptable level while the Government have distorted the funding formula.

13 Jul 2000 : Column 1270

They are angry because the Government's rhetoric implies that there has never been money like it in the NHS and the problems are over. They are angry because, two years ago, they were given assurances by the health authority that, yes, there would be difficulties in service provision, but the towns of Farnham and Haslemere would have their community beds. People are angry because they have no confidence that the health authority will act honourably, listen to their concerns and provide the local community with a service of which they can be proud.

This may be my last opportunity before the end of the consultation period to raise the matter in the House. I very much hope that the Minister will listen carefully and will be able to give people some encouragement. We are told that for the next three years, there will be an additional 6 per cent. above inflation for the NHS. The Hampshire health authority has taken those figures into account in its proposals. For no reason known to anybody, the Surrey health authority has chosen to disregard those proposals.

Since the previous plan, has the need for care changed? No. Has the financial position changed? No--except that we are told that there is more money coming through. It would be absolutely wrong to commit a long-term act of vandalism in the health infrastructure in West Surrey for reasons of short-term economic constraint.

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