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Better Healthcare Closer to Home

Volume 505: debated on Tuesday 2 February 2010

Moving health care closer to home is a policy objective of this Government. I think that the hon. Gentleman has in mind a scheme that has been submitted by his local NHS to the Department of Health. That scheme is currently under consideration by that Department and when it comes to me, I can assure him that I will review it thoroughly, but also promptly.

I would like to thank the Health Minister, the right hon. and learned Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O’Brien), for his support for the project. Would the Chief Secretary be willing to meet concerned local Members of Parliament over the next couple of weeks, so that we can ensure that the pressure is maintained on the different partners involved in the project and ensure that Better Healthcare Closer to Home is delivered for the residents of Sutton and Merton? The next four weeks are critical.

I am always happy to meet groups of right hon. and hon. Members. In particular, I would like to put on record my thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh) for her tireless campaigning on behalf of the project. We are proud of the number of hospitals that the Government have built. We said that we would build 100 new hospitals by 2010; in fact, the Department of Health is on course to build 126 by the end of this year. The scheme to which the hon. Gentleman referred is yet to come to me for approval. The House would expect me to look at the business case thoroughly when it arrives, but as I said to him a moment ago, I also understand the need for speed.

May I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer? Can he make a commitment to ensuring that the health services received by my constituents will continue to be a top priority for this Government?

My hon. Friend can rest assured on that point. I met the Secretary of State for Health last week to begin our preparations together for considering that particular project. I hope that she will be able to join me and any other hon. Members who would like to get together to discuss that important new development.