Skip to main content

NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts

Volume 588: debated on Tuesday 25 November 2014

Thirty-three NHS trusts and 60 foundation trusts are forecasting an end-of-year financial deficit, with the remaining 65 NHS trusts and 87 foundation trusts forecasting an end-of-year surplus.

Earlier this year, Monitor announced that the number of trusts in financial breach had nearly doubled over the previous 12 months. How confident is the Minister that the number will not double again next year?

I am very confident that the measures already in place to drive efficiencies in the NHS are on course to save £20 billion during this Parliament. Many of those efficiencies are being delivered by improved procurement practice at a trust level. The Government have also invested £15 billion during this Parliament, which is a real-terms increase of £5 billion in NHS funding to support trusts.

The Government have invested hugely in the NHS in Harlow, including millions of pounds to our accident and emergency unit. However, for historical reasons the Princess Alexandra hospital has financial difficulties. Will my hon. Friend look at this and see what the Government can do to help?

Of course. As my hon. Friend is aware, every local health area—every clinical commissioning group—is receiving an increase in the funding available to it year on year. I would be happy to meet him to discuss the matter further, if that would be helpful.

As the Minister knows, North West London Hospitals is one of the NHS trusts that is in deficit. It has seen the accident and emergency departments at two nearby hospitals close, and its hospital board estimates that an additional 123 beds are necessary. Will the Minister meet me to discuss the problems of its historical deficit and the need for additional funding to make sure that those 123 medical beds are provided?

I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that, in the words of the medical directors of all the hospitals affected, there is a very high level of clinical support for the programme across north-west London, and the changes will save many lives each year and significantly improve the services that are available to local patients. I hope that is reassuring to the hon. Gentleman and to local patients.

Running a deficit can demonstrate short-term problems which, once resolved, will allow a trust to return to balance. Does my hon. Friend agree that there must be flexibility in the system, particularly for trusts such as North Cumbria, which have been in special measures?

It is absolutely right that trusts such as North Cumbria need to face up to challenges when those affect the quality of patient care, and that the focus of Care Quality Commission inspections and special measures is to drive up standards of care. It is also important that we continue to invest and support trusts where we can. That is why we are pleased to be increasing the NHS budget by £15 billion during this Parliament.

Is the Minister aware that the Manchester primary care trust ought not to be incurring a deficit because it does not spend sufficient of its money and resources on investigating cases referred to it and on responding to hon. Members such as myself when they write to it over a period of months? Will he look into this incompetence and examine similar behaviour, or lack of it, by the Care Quality Commission?

It is very important that the NHS faces up to the situation when things have gone wrong so that it can put them right for the benefit of patients in future. If the right hon. Gentleman has concerns about his local NHS not investigating complaints that he has raised with it on behalf of his constituents who are patients of the local trust, I am very happy to investigate those issues for him if he would like to write to me about them, and see what I can do to ensure that he gets the answers that he and his local patients deserve.

I understand that pretty much every hospital in Essex faces a yawning deficit, including Colchester hospital. Can the Minister guarantee that we can address the deficit without having to dramatically and radically reconfigure local services in Essex?

It is important to outline that for the first time this Government have put in place, via section 42 financial agreements with trusts where there is a requirement for interim financial support, measures that will ensure that trusts are held to account for delivering efficiencies—for example, reducing agency staffing costs, improving procurement practice, more efficient estate use and land disposal, and pay restraint of very senior managers. I am therefore confident that the local NHS can continue to deliver efficiencies to direct money to front-line care.