The NHS “Five Year Forward View” sets out a range of actions to help sustain smaller local hospitals, and we have backed that with almost £2 billion. NHS England is making a £200 million transformation fund available to smaller hospitals looking to develop prototypes.
Did the Minister see the recent remarks by Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, on how smaller local hospitals can play a role in providing care, particularly to older patients, many of whom prefer to be treated close to home? Does she agree that this makes the case for the future within the NHS for smaller hospitals such as St Cross in Rugby?
It is exactly that kind of flexibility that we so much welcome in the “Five Year Forward View”, recognising the potential of smaller hospitals. My hon. Friend’s local hospital, which he champions so well, can apply to be one of NHS England’s prototypes, and I would encourage it to do so.
Does the Minister accept the case made by commissioners and the trust in Morecambe Bay that, notwithstanding all the efficiencies and changes in services, the trust could not close its deficit, due to its near unique geography and health need, without significantly cutting vital services for the area?
These are clearly difficult local questions that local health leaders need to look at. If there is a particular issue the hon. Gentleman would like to draw to our attention, we will certainly be able to examine it. I recognise that unique geography is involved, but steps are already being taken by NHS England to try to close some of those gaps and to deal with those challenges that smaller hospitals face, working with Monitor and looking at, for example, the tariff regime. I encourage him to look at that, too.