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Hospital Services

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 26 April 2011

12. What arrangements he has made for continuity of provision of existing hospital services under his proposed reforms of the NHS; and if he will make a statement. (52560)

Commissioners would remain responsible for securing continued provision of NHS services to meet the needs of their local populations. We are proposing to support commissioners in this by introducing a comprehensive system of regulation at national level and additional regulation for designated services.

The Minister told the Bill Committee that some accident and emergency services might be undercut by private providers, which could force them to close. Will the Government bring forward amendments to the Bill to safeguard existing A and E services in all areas, including Merseyside?

I know that the hon. Lady does not want to mislead the House, but she is totally, factually incorrect in how she paraphrased what I said in the Health and Social Care Bill Committee. As any hon. Member who was there will know, I tried to be helpful to the hon. Member for Leicester West (Liz Kendall)—it is the last time I will—and gave her an illustrative example of how designated services would work. However, I did not say what the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) attributed to me.

Clinicians at the West Suffolk hospital in Bury St Edmunds are concerned that they will get the same tariff for an operation as a private sector provider, even though the NHS has to carry the cost of training whereas, on the whole, the private sector does not. What steps will the Minister take to address this perceived unfairness?

I should like to reassure my hon. Friend. As he will know, we do not propose to introduce price competition into the NHS; rather, we propose to introduce competition based on quality. His clinicians are correct that the price will be the same. However, they must remember that we are going to stop the practice of the last Government, who, with independent sector treatment centres, paid the private sector over 11% more per operation than they were prepared to pay the national health service.

I thought that the hon. Gentleman wanted to come in on this question. That is what I have been told, but never mind: we will wait to hear his dulcet tones in due course.