|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
"welcomes the Government's determination to reform primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs) to ensure all patients get the services they need, to shift the focus of services more towards prevention and tackling health inequalities, to engage better with GPs in developing services that meet patients' needs, to reduce bureaucracy and to deliver better value for money for taxpayers; further welcomes the widespread support within PCTs and SHAs for the principles on which Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS has been based; and further welcomes the Government's consultation on reforming ambulance trusts to ensure more care is provided in the home and at the scene, to give better advice to patients over the telephone and to deliver faster response times to save more lives, in line with the recommendations from the National Ambulance Adviser Peter Bradley's review 'Taking Healthcare to the Patient: Transforming Ambulance Services.'."
I think that this is the first occasion on which I have crossed swords with the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien). I well remember the by-election in July 1999, when the hon. Gentleman only just held off a challenge from Labour. That near-success was almost entirely due to the excellent campaign, whose slogan was "Vote Labour or the fox gets it". None the less, it is a pleasure to see the hon. Gentleman at the Dispatch Box. He has consolidated his position in Eddisbury, on which I congratulate him. I wish him a long career as an Opposition spokesman.
The NHS is being restored to good health. It has more doctors, more nurses and better facilities. The revolution in quantity of care must, however, be matched by a revolution in quality of care, with equal access for all and no charges for operations. That means new types of health provision, more say for patients in how, where and when they are treated, and tackling ill health at source.
I should like a moment to get into my speech, I will give way later, but I am very conscious of
7 Feb 2006 : Column 802
the 10-minute limit on Back-Bench speeches andlike the hon. Member for EddisburyI want to keep my remarks to a minimum if I can.
The phrases that I just used are the promises that we made in our manifesto. That is what these structural changes are set to achieve. I hoped that the hon. Member for Eddisbury would pay a bit more attention to the manifesto on which he stood at the last election. That manifesto pledged to implement the James report, which had a clear attitude to what should happen to PCTs. Only nine months ago, the Conservatives said that they would radically reduce the intrusive bureaucracy that the PCTs had become, removing 30,000 administrative staff and saving £636.6 million a year. We did not hear whether that was still the hon. Gentleman's policy. The thrust of his argument consisted of an objection to the reorganisation that we are proposing.
Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex) (Con): The Minister and I will agree that in the past five years the NHS budget has indeed increased substantially, while productivity has unfortunately failed to increase at the same rate. Does the hon. Lady agree that the NHS has one of the most committed work forces in the country, and that its biggest failure is the failure to engage properly with its professional staffthe doctors and nurses who are capable of delivering all the service changes that she proposes? Does she agree that much more needs to be done in that regard?
Jane Kennedy: It is a pleasure to see the hon. Gentleman restored to us in good health. When he is not here, the House is the poorer for it. His point is fair. When consultations are taking place, it is important for those who have strong views, particularly those who are most closely affectedpatients and the staff who deliver servicesto be listened to, and to be involved in the consultations.
In our manifesto, we said that by removing £250 million from the management costs of PCTs and SHAs we could redirect the resource to front-line NHS services. Within nine months, we are fulfilling our promise and the Conservatives are breaking the promises made in their manifesto. We have heard no word from them about what they would do about PCT administration. We may have turnaround teams assisting the NHS organisations that are struggling with deficits, but the Tories have a turnaround leader who changes their policy every five minutes.
Mr. Redwood: Can the Minister tell us how much the Department has spent in the past year on management consultants? Does she agree that we are suffering from a surplus of management consultants and a shortage of medical consultants?
A tiny proportion of the amount that we spend on administration in the NHS is spent on consultants. I do not have the exact figure to hand. I will
7 Feb 2006 : Column 803
look into the detail, but I am confident that we use consultants to very good effect. That is demonstrated by the way in which services are improving.
The James review recommended the abolition of strategic health authorities. In the motion we see that writ large, but we have heard nothing from the hon. Member for Eddisbury about who will oversee the expenditure of taxpayers' money in the regions, and who will maintain strategic oversight of service development across a wider geographic area. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) said, it is a question not of reorganisation per se, but of what kind of reorganisation we take forward.
David Taylor: The House would agree that there is probably no magic number in relation to the size of population that is appropriate for a primary care trust, but if 150 primary care trusts covering the 50 million population of Great Britainjust over 300,000 people per PCTseems appropriate, why are we getting rid of a successful one, Charnwood and North West Leicestershire, which serves a population of about 250,000, which is about the right size, which is big enough to deliver services, and which is effective and small enough to be accountable to the three MPs that represent its area? Why is that being absorbed into a 650,000 mega-doughnut outside the city of Leicester?
Mr. Jim Cunningham: Surely the answer to the Tory criticisms is that we do not hear so much now about people on trolleys who cannot get beds in hospitals. Had there been the deficits under the Tories that they are attacking tonight, we would have had hospital closures. Instead, under this Government we have new hospitals.
I know that the reconfiguration of strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and ambulance trusts has aroused a great deal of interest. The Health Committee recently published a report that provides a helpful contribution to the debate. We will respond in due course to that report, but I am glad of the opportunity today to explain the position and what the
7 Feb 2006 : Column 804
Government are doing to change the structure of those organisations for the benefit of patients and to improve value for money.
Investment in the NHS is rising rapidlyit has risen from £33 billion in 199798 to more than £90 billion in 200708but that increase will bring us to the European average of GDP spent on health services, which shows how far behind the UK fell under the tender care of the Conservative party.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|