The 2005-06 provisional out-turn figure for the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is a £56,000 surplus. However, I am aware that the trust faces a challenging financial situation in the current financial year, and it is in discussion with the strategic health authority on how to achieve efficiency savings.
On 7 June, the Secretary of State said that
“overspending occurred in better-off areas”—[Official Report, 7 June 2006; Vol. 447, c. 254.]
Can the Minister explain why the Pennine acute trust, which covers Rochdale, Oldham and north Manchester and has huge health service needs, is predicting an overspend of £28 million, despite, as she said, having balanced its books last year?
Obviously, the trust will have benefited from the massive investment that has gone into the NHS generally. However, one of the trust’s problems has been higher than average costs associated with delivery of services. That is why it is getting particular help in looking at how it can make efficiency savings. When payment by results is introduced, difficulties will arise unless it can reduce some of its current costs by making some of the changes to service delivery that have been made in other parts of the country, so that services are delivered in the most effective manner without patient care being compromised.
The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is the second largest hospital trust in the country, serving four district general hospitals and covering 10 constituencies and a population of some 700,000. In addition to the problem highlighted by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Paul Rowen), there are two or three more that need to be considered, including the reconfiguration of that very large trust and board appointments. I want to put on the agenda the independent Appointments Commission and the problems that it is raising in different parts of the country. I should be glad if my hon. Friend expedited the meeting that we have requested for the 10 hon. Members served by the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
I know that my hon. Friend has pressed the case on his constituents’ behalf about the issues that he has just raised. His persistence has led to a meeting being arranged within, I think, the week, and I look forward to discussing all the issues that he has raised with him and his colleagues.