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District General Hospitals

Volume 598: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2015

9. What recent discussions he has had with NHS England on the future of district general hospitals; and if he will make a statement. (900784)

The NHS was launched in a district general hospital. The continuing commitment of NHS England to DGHs is shown in their serial mentions in the “Five Year Forward View”. I recommend that the hon. Lady reads that to see the future for district general hospitals and the important role they will play.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer, but it ignores the reality on the ground. In opposition, the Prime Minister promised a bare-knuckle fight to save district general hospitals. Since he came to power, Warrington has lost its vascular services and some of its spinal services, maternity services are under review, and a £15 million deficit threatens the future of the trust. Did that bare-knuckle fighter get knocked out, or did he not even bother to enter the ring?

I gently remind the hon. Lady that the difference is that changes to services provided at hospitals are now made on the recommendation of clinicians, rather than of bureaucrats and Ministers, as it was under the previous Government, in which she served. In respect of her own hospital, the number of diagnostic tests for cancer are up by 22,000 since 2010, the number of MRI scans by 6,000, the number of CT scans by 7,000 and the number of operations by 1,800. That is a record of which to be proud.

Wycombe hospital could benefit from one of the excellent models in the “Five Year Forward View”. Will my hon. Friend make sure these excellent proposals are carried through with energy and alacrity?

The strength of the NHS forward view is that it is a creation of the NHS itself, and we, as the only party to back it in full with cash, will give it the kind of support it needs to make sure it is delivered.

How many maternity wards or emergency surgery departments currently located in district general hospitals will close as a result of the Government’s seven-day NHS plans?

It is telling that the hon. Lady wishes to talk about wards rather than outcomes. Over the last five years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of patients treated in emergency wards, and we will continue to see an increase, and the difference is that they will operate seven days a week, rather than just five days a week, as is currently the case for many services across the NHS.