Skip to main content

North Cheshire Hospitals Nhs Trust

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

3.30 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 24, to debate an important matter that requires specific and urgent consideration, namely,

the financial problems at North Cheshire Hospitals NHS trust and the action which needs to be taken to resolve them.
It was recently revealed that North Cheshire Hospitals NHS trust ended the last financial year with a deficit of £5.8 million. The director of finance has left—to take up another post, I understand—and the chief executive has tendered his resignation. The trust is therefore left to face its problems without two key officers. Rumours are rife in my constituency about what may happen at Warrington hospital, and the staff are seriously concerned.

We urgently need answers from our strategic health authority about how the deficit arose and what action it intends to take to deal with it. Unfortunately, it has proved difficult to obtain answers from the authority. I have written to it, and I know that hon. Friends have written too. The chief executive has arranged two meetings with me, but has cancelled them. She does not return phone calls. It is easier to get an audience with the Pope than with the chief executive of our strategic health authority. I have also raised the matter with the authority's chairman, who has declined to use her good offices to facilitate a meeting.

This is scandalous at a time when the health care of my constituents is at risk. My constituents deserve to know that future funding for their local hospital will be secured and that the improvements that the Government have made at Warrington hospital—and there have been considerable improvements—will be maintained and built on. My constituents are entitled to know exactly why the hospital is in this position when the health authority in north Cheshire has received a 48 per cent. increase in funding from the Government since 1997.

The current situation cannot be allowed to continue. It is causing great distress to my constituents and is undermining the morale of the hard-working staff at the hospital. I hope, therefore, Mr. Speaker that you will be able to grant my application so that we may know how future health funding for North Cheshire Hospitals NHS trust is to be secured, and so that my constituents may be assured that improvements in their health care will be maintained in future.

I have listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Warrington, North (Helen Jones) has said. I must give my decision, without stating any reasons. I am afraid that I do not consider that the matter that she has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 24, and I cannot therefore submit the application to the House.