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Community Hospitals

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

11. What assessment he has made of the contribution of community hospitals in (a) England and (b) Leicestershire. Community hospitals can provide care closer to where people live. The local health service makes decisions about how services are organised, but the Government are providing £750 million over five years for new community hospitals and new community services throughout the country. (203369)

The Minister states that the Government want people to be treated closer to home, which I applaud. However, in Leicestershire as elsewhere, the primary care trust is considering closing down or reducing services in community hospitals, especially in Lutterworth in my constituency, and possibly in Ashby. Will the Minister explain to me and to my constituents in the Lutterworth area—and, indeed, to Leicestershire PCT—how treatment closer to home is deemed desirable, yet services in Lutterworth are being reduced, which will mean people having to travel to Leicester or Rugby for treatment?

It is not the job of Ministers in Whitehall to second-guess the decisions of local primary care trusts, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman’s PCT has listened carefully to his comments. However, my information from the PCT is that there are currently no proposals such as he describes for Lutterworth, and it has decided not to go ahead with any consultation about Lutterworth in the first round of consultation on community hospitals in Leicestershire. Contrary to his suggestion, the PCT is trying to do exactly what I described earlier: moving more services out of the big acute hospitals in Leicester and elsewhere into community hospitals, and from community hospitals into people’s homes, because that is what people want. It may be decided locally that some services are best provided by one community hospital, or by district nurses or others who go into people’s homes. That is a matter for the local PCT. If the hon. Gentleman does not like its proposals, he should speak to its representatives. If the local elected councillors do not like them, they have a democratic forum in the overview and scrutiny committee to refer them to the national independent review panel, which examines any objections to the sort of reorganisation that he describes.