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Worcestershire Royal Hospital

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2003

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What assessment he has made of the performance of the Worcestershire Royal hospital. [109801]

The Worcestershire Royal hospital, as part of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS trust, was awarded two stars in the latest NHS performance ratings, received a positive Commission for Health Improvement clinical governance report recently, and achieved all its waiting list targets for the end of March 2003. I would like to congratulate all the staff at the hospital on their commitment and dedication to the needs of NHS patients.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. He may have noticed that the Worcestershire Royal hospital was shortlisted as one of the top six hospitals in the country by a recent survey in The Sunday Times. Would he add his congratulations on that achievement and does he share my dismay that one Member of the House commented that The Sunday Times survey must be worthless because the Worcestershire Royal hospital did well in it? Does he agree that such comments do nothing for staff morale and nothing for the recruitment of key medical personnel, but have everything to do with undermining faith in our national health service?

The Worcestershire Royal is an excellent hospital that is doing a very good job in improving the range of services available for local people. I would certainly like to emphasise the achievements that have been made in the hospital. I also think it is incumbent on all right hon. and hon. Members to support their local NHS. When that does not happen, it is a cause of great disappointment, not least to staff locally.

Notwithstanding the very real achievements that doctors and nurses have made at the hospital, I am sure that the Minister would wish to say that there are some very real problems at the trust. The district auditor's report identified it as the most expensive in the west midlands, and there are acute car-parking problems and patients cannot make appointments. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, dear."] I am sorry that Labour Members feel that patients not being able to make appointments is a matter of no concern. There are also serious waits on trolleys after accidents, and a whole range of problems. Will the Minister tell the House by when the trust will have to clear its accumulated deficit, because the great pressure it is under to meet financial deadlines imposed by the Government is inhibiting its ability to deal with its remaining problems? When will it have to clear its deficit?

I think the hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the fact that there are continuing issues. He has referred to the problems of car parking at the hospital, which I understand the local trust is addressing.

In relation to resources, I caution the hon. Gentleman, who I know is a strong supporter of the NHS. It is important to bear in mind that, over the next three years in Worcestershire, the NHS will see a growth in resources of more than 30 per cent., and that is very important. It will help the trust to address those underlying difficulties and it will allow the service to grow and expand to meet the needs of local people. I simply say to the hon. Gentleman in the politest way that I can that it is no good coming to this place moaning about the financial position of local NHS trusts when he and his party will not support the additional investment that is going into the NHS.

The Minister will be aware that the wait for an MRI scan in Worcester is more than 12 months and that the mobile MRI scanner at Kidderminster, where the waits are shorter, is about to be withdrawn. Will he ensure that the static MRI scanners to be installed elsewhere in the county— particularly in the diagnostic and treatment centre at Kidderminster—are not delayed by the county's financial deficit?

I am not familiar with that particular problem, but I will certainly look into it.