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NHS Trusts (Budgets)

Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

2. What changes in the budgets for 2006-07 for NHS trusts serving Lambeth and Southwark have been agreed since her meeting with me, the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), the right hon. Members for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) and for Streatham (Keith Hill), and the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey). (103768)

Following the meeting to which the hon. Gentleman refers, I asked NHS London to look again at budgets in Lambeth and Southwark. It has confirmed that after other factors have been taken into account, Lambeth and Southwark primary care trusts were asked to contribute less to the London-wide risk reserves for this year than most other London PCTs.

Does the Secretary of State accept that although Lambeth and Southwark are among the two most deprived boroughs in the country and have the most health service needs, that although we have cuts totalling an estimated £23 million to the Guys and St. Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley Trusts, that although there was no dispute that that will affect community services, mental health services, preventive health services and others, and that although she agreed at our meeting that it was unfair, there has been no change—there will be just the same cuts, and this year the two local communities will suffer exactly the same reduction in their services as before the meeting, which we left thinking that she was likely to be able to influence the result and produce a fairer outcome?

As I explained to the hon. Gentleman when we met, the NHS in London and in other regions was asked to take into account the impact of the technical adjustment that was made through what is called the purchaser parity adjustment. It has done that, and it is because of that that Southwark and Lambeth have been asked to contribute less to the London-wide reserve than most other PCTs. Of course this is difficult, particularly in Southwark and Lambeth, which are very deprived communities, but the speed with which they will get back the money that they have contributed this year will depend on the speed with which other, overspending organisations in London get themselves back on track and cease to rely on organisations that are in balance to compensate for their overspending.

As one of the other Members at that meeting, I share the concerns expressed by the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes), because we left the meeting thinking that there would be some changes. The new planning framework shows a further 3.6 per cent. cut next year in Lambeth and Southwark. These are the most deprived areas in London, and the cuts will affect projects such as the healthy living centre in Stockwell, which will have to close, and all sorts of provisions that affect ordinary people in their daily lives. Why is the Secretary of State not considering the poorer PCTs that have stayed in budget yet have to suffer because of the overspending of others?

It is precisely for that reason that we are insisting that overspending organisations, of which there are far too many in London, get their finances back under control so that we do not have to go on asking the communities in areas such as Lambeth and Southwark, which have been in balance, to make these difficult decisions. As I explained in the letter that I sent to my hon. Friends and other hon. Members after the meeting, it is simply not possible for the NHS in London to reopen the allocations, and the decisions that were made with all the London PCTs, to deal with the situation this year. We will continue to ensure, through the allocations formula, that the areas with the biggest needs get the biggest growth. That will be fair to Southwark and Lambeth. It is, of course, opposed by the Conservatives.