Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)
I seek leave to call for a debate on a specific and important matter that I believe should have urgent consideration: the appointment by Monitor of a trust special administrator for the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and the proposed changes to hospital services in Stafford and Cannock. There are four reasons why such a debate is vital.
First, this is the first such appointment to a foundation trust under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Given the seriousness of the decisions, I urge Monitor to ensure that there is the longest possible period of consultation and that the trust special administrator has the option to consider proposals other than those that have been set out, none of which are acceptable to me or my constituents. I welcome the reassurance that the administrator’s priority is to deliver high-quality services to patients.
Secondly, although some of the reasons for the administration are particular to Mid Staffordshire, the most important reasons are not. The pressure being placed on mid-sized and even large acute trusts by the squeezing of the emergency and acute tariffs since 2009 is huge. Mid Staffs, which had £21 million of extra funding injected into it last year, may be the first trust this has happened to, but if the squeeze continues, it may be the first of many. The House urgently needs the opportunity to debate NHS tariffs for emergency and acute care, the demand for which is rising annually.
Thirdly, the proposed changes to hospital services in the area served by Mid Staffordshire, including Cannock Chase, Stone and south Staffordshire, are not acceptable. They will increase health inequalities, contrary to section 4 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, by reducing access, especially for those on low incomes and those without access to private transport. The changes will put tens of thousands of my constituents much further away from emergency, acute and maternity services.
Finally, the impact of some of the changes will be felt much further afield. The surrounding hospitals are already operating at or near capacity. The idea that they can take on large numbers of additional patients without it damaging the services for their local populations is highly questionable.
I have always accepted that there need to be changes and that the trust in its present form needs to alter. However, the current proposals, which differ from those made by several reports over the past three years by Professor Sir George Alberti and others, go much too far. The services provided by the trust have improved considerably in the past three years. I urge the people of Stafford, Cannock and the surrounding areas to make full use of them to show the administrator just how indispensable they are.
The hon. Gentleman asks leave to propose a debate on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration: namely, the proposed appointment of a special administrator for the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. I have listened carefully to his application and conclude that the matter does not, on this occasion, meet the criteria of Standing Order No. 24. I thank him for his contribution.