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8 Jan 2003 : Column 231continued
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): Order. First, let me remind the hon. Gentleman that visual aids are not encouraged in the Chamber. Secondly, he should relate his remarks to foundation hospitals, if he can manage to do so.
Mr. Tredinnick: I have no intention of being ruled out of order in the little time left. I want to see the book entitled XIntegrating Complementary Therapies in Primary Care" used in foundation hospitalsthe subject of this debate. I can say with some pride that it is a good few years since I have been ruled out of order in the Chamber, but I would not want to excite your interest in keeping me in order too much, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, the guidelines in the book contain policies that I would like to see adopted in foundation hospitals, and explain exactly how conventional managers can integrate and introduce these disciplines and make them work. Many doctors want integrated therapies to be introduced; they cannot cope with conventional treatments. Many surgeons in foundation hospitals would benefit from having osteopaths and chiropractors working alongside them. It is important for the new hospitals that we take the practical steps of integrating complementary therapies into mainstream care.
Doctors are, by and large, keen to have a better understanding of complementary therapies. There are new courses available at the training colleges and universities, but I am afraid that some doctors are still, to say the least, patronising and ill informed about some aspects of these therapies. They resent them, and their attitude is based on fear and insecurity.
The Government should push ahead as fast as they can on two fronts. They should ensure that there is voluntary self-regulation for all disciplines, including aromatherapy, and not just acupuncture and herbal medicine. They should also make it possible for doctors to learn, if they want to, how these therapies work. In that way, the Government will reduce the burden on the health service, make the foundation hospitals more effective and improve the health of the nation.
Mr. Tony Colman (Putney): It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Tredinnick). Although I do not agree with everything he says, I believe that there is a case for alternative medicines in foundation hospitals and, indeed, all hospitals. I am very pleased that my son is retraining to specialise in chiropractic, acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
I strongly support the amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health. I thank him for his announcement on 11 December last year of a 30 per cent. increase in funding for the Wandsworth primary care trust over the next three years. An extra #77 million will go straight to the primary care trust, which is very good news for my constituents.
Furthermore, I am pleased that we are carrying out the final contract negotiations for the new Queen Mary's hospital in my constituency. The contract is due to be signed next summer and the hospital is scheduled to open in new buildings in 2005. The capital spend for the project amounts to about #45 million.
Recently, the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire (Mr. Page) and, earlier in the debate, the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) cast some doubt over the utterances of the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasurywho was formerly one of my constituents in Putneyon the 20 per cent. cuts. I am sure that when the hon. Gentleman made his comments during the recess he meant what he said about the cuts, so I am warning my constituents about what might happen in the future should there be a Conservative Government.
We need to look to the past and remember the 1990s when NHS funding declined every year. My right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) made a strong indictment of that. The death warrant for Queen Mary's district general hospital was signed in December 1996, in the dying days of the last Conservative Government, but now we see the hospital's resurrection, phoenix-like, under the Labour Government.
I welcome the principle of NHS foundation trusts. I emphasise my reference to the principle; in a sense, we are talking about work in progress. It is important to move from Whitehall micro-management to management through regulation and inspection of the best performing hospitals. We already have a two-tier national health service; indeed, some people would say that there are more than two tiers. There is certainly not a single tier at present and it is extremely important to level up all hospitals to the best.
I want to comment on the principles. It is essential that the central management of the NHS concentrate their time on the worst performing hospitals, leaving the best to manage within the regulatory framework. The worst performing hospitals should receive more money than the best, not less. The foundation hospitals should certainly be able to borrow, but that should be on the balance sheet. However, we must ensure that hospitals, such as Kingston hospital and St. George's hospital, which serve my constituents, are not left in a situation where the total pot of money has been diminished because money has been drawn down by foundation hospitals ahead of those that do not yet have a three-star rating.
We need to listen to the unions as we go forward with the proposals. Some unions have expressed concern, although others have not yet made their views known. I was pleased that the views of Unison were taken into account when adapting the private finance initiative contract for Queen Mary's hospital so as to ensure that NHS staff remained NHS employees under the PFI. It is important to reassure the unions that the proposals are not divisive and that they will not set work force against work force. Now that we have negotiated the agenda for change policy, we need to build on it so that the situation does not fall apart.
The last and most important point on which I want to concentrate is that of governance, to which many hon. Members have returned. I am particularly eager that local patients should elect the boards of their hospitals. I do not wish to see a return to the cronyism under the last Conservative Government in terms of appointments to NHS boards. I very much welcomed the appointment of Sir William Wells as chair of the NHS Appointments Commission. Many excellent people have been appointed as chairs and non-executive directors of trusts over recent years, but they are accountable to only one personthe Secretary of State. I very much want to see a move towards wider accountability to the community.
I share the strong views of my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) in terms of wanting the NHS and social services to come together with local authorities. In fact, that is one of the few matters on which I agree with Edward Lister, the leader of Wandsworth council, in whose area my constituency lies. I have proposed and supported that cause over the past 15 years, but it was not on the agenda for the previous Government, and it is not on the agenda for this Government. It is important to recognise that what is now on the agenda is a level of local accountability to local electors that has not existed previously.
I was pleased to hear the response of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to questions about the nature of the electoral basis of foundation hospitals. He had taken account of the situation that exists in my constituency, where there is not an acute hospital. As a result, my constituents are served by both Kingston hospital and St. George's hospital, and it is important that the electoral roll for voting for governors of such hospitals should include all those within the catchment area. That is something to be expanded and developed. I recognise, too, the caveat in relation to specialist hospitals that cover very large areas, which require an electoral basis that relates to the patients rather than to the whole of London, as that would plainly be absurd.