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Hospital Acute Services

Volume 598: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2015

1. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of recent reviews of acute services in hospitals. (900776)

The configuration of front-line health services is a matter for the local NHS. It is for NHS commissioners and providers to work together with local authorities, patients and the public to shape their local NHS in such a way as to improve the quality, safety and sustainability of healthcare services.

The review of acute services in Worcestershire has taken nearly two years longer than anticipated, and that has had subsequent negative implications for the health economy in Worcestershire. It is absolutely right that trusts carry out proper reviews from time to time, but has the system been written in such a way that it creates imbalances that prevent a conclusion from being reached? What steps is my hon. Friend taking to bring in practical measures to expedite the conclusion of such reviews?

I agree that the process in Worcestershire has taken too long. I am glad that the West Midlands Clinical Senate has made recommendations that are being looked at by commissioners at the moment. I have encouraged commissioners to come to as quick a resolution as possible—I hope within the next few months.

Will the Minister conduct a review of car parking charges? Patients in Dudley are absolutely furious after the people running Russells Hall hospital put up prices by as much as 50% for a short stay. Will he get together with NHS civil servants and the people running the hospitals to sort this out?

Thank you Mr Speaker—helpful as ever.

The hon. Gentleman is entirely right that those who seek to access acute services on a regular basis require special treatment. That is why we issued guidance in the previous Parliament. I very much hope that his local hospitals will be looking at that with due care and attention.

Kettering general hospital is looking to develop a £30 million urgent care hub—one of the first of its type in the country—to replace and enhance the accident and emergency department, which is under growing strain. This project enjoyed the support of the previous Government. Will my hon. Friend agree to meet me and the two other MPs from north Northamptonshire to make sure that it remains on track?

I very much look forward to meeting my hon. Friend and his colleagues, and I have already committed to doing so. I hope that the lead he has taken with his colleagues in forging a cross-party consensus will be copied across the House.

Each week, 1,000 diabetics suffer hypoglycaemic attacks, which require urgent medical treatment and access to acute services. Does the Minister agree that better management of diabetes services by GPs will lessen the pressure on our A&E services?

I do agree with the right hon. Gentleman, who is an expert in this field. We have a diabetes and obesity strategy coming later in the year. The Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison), who is responsible for public health, will be leading that effort.