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Hospitals (Special Measures)

Volume 621: debated on Tuesday 7 February 2017

In the last four years, 31 trusts have been put into special measures—more than one in 10 of all NHS trusts. Of those, 16 have now come out, and I congratulate the staff of Addenbrooke’s and all at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which came out of special measures last month.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank Professor Sir Mike Richards, who has announced his retirement as chief inspector of hospitals. His legacy will be a safer, more caring NHS for the 3 million patients who use it every week. He can feel extremely proud of what he has achieved.

Royal Bolton hospital was in special measures four years ago, but it has since come out following a huge amount of hard work. The trust is now running a surplus, which is being reinvested into patient care. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating all the staff on their excellent hard work?

I am happy to do so. It is a fantastic example of what is possible in challenging circumstances with a lot of pressure on the frontline, so the staff should feel proud. Trusts put into special measures go on to recruit, on average, 63 more doctors and 189 more nurses and see visible improvements in the quality of patient care.

The Secretary of State is right to congratulate Addenbrooke’s, which came out of special measures in the last month due to the dedication of its staff, but we still need to reduce pressure on the A&E. One way of doing that is to increase care locally in rural hubs. Does the Secretary of State agree that money spent on the minor injuries unit at Ely’s Princess of Wales hospital would be money extremely well spent?

I remember visiting my hon. Friend in Ely last autumn, and I know how much she campaigns and cares for her local health services. The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG knows the importance of Ely’s minor injuries unit. It is setting up some public engagement meetings, but if any changes are deemed necessary, I reassure her that there will be a formal consultation before anything happens.

The Heath Secretary’s self-congratulatory tone is astonishing. In the last year, the number of people waiting longer than four hours in A&E has increased by 63%, the number of people waiting on trolleys has gone up by 55%, and the number of delayed discharges is up by 22%. While all of us want hospitals in special measures to improve, what is the Health Secretary’s answer to those urgent problems that affect the NHS across the board?

I will tell the hon. Lady what is happening in the NHS compared with when her party was in power: 130 more people are starting cancer treatment every single day; 2,500 more people are being seen in A&Es within four hours every single day; and there are 5,000 more operations every single day. None of that would be possible if we cut the NHS budget, which is what her party wanted to do.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has been taken out of special measures, despite continued growth in the number of people with mental health problems dying in unexpected or avoidable circumstances from things such as suicide. “Panorama” and the Health Foundation have shown that in 33 trusts the number of avoidable deaths has doubled in the last three years as those trusts have collectively experienced a real-terms cut of £150 million. What specific measures is the Secretary of State taking to tackle the problem of avoidable deaths of people with mental health problems?

We have committed, and the Prime Minister affirmed the commitment only last month, to spend £1 billion more every year on mental health services, but we recognise that it is not just about money. It is also about having a proper suicide prevention plan—we have updated the plan—and making sure that, across the NHS, we properly investigate and learn from avoidable deaths. That is why, following the tragedy of what happened at Southern Health, we have now started a big new programme—the first of its kind in the world—whereby every trust will publish its number of avoidable deaths quarterly.

21. A year ago, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was rated inadequate. Thanks to the hard work, dedication and care of all its staff, the hospitals are now good on many measures, albeit further improvements need to be made. Will the Secretary of State join me in thanking the staff? Does he agree that we need to talk up our successes, as well as recognising challenges? (908643)

I join my hon. Friend in doing that. It is really important, contrary to what the former shadow Health Secretary, the hon. Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander), says, that we praise NHS staff when they do remarkable things. There is a lot of pressure everywhere in the NHS, and praising NHS staff is not being self-congratulatory; it is recognising when a good job is being done.

Further to the very important question of my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Neil Coyle), Members on both sides of the House may have seen “Panorama” last night. Frankly, it was shocking and disgusting. I am ashamed to live in a country where in the past year there have been over 1,000 more unexpected deaths under the care of our mental health trusts. That is not a reflection of a country that cares equally about mental health and physical health. In spite of what the Secretary of State just told us, the money is not getting to where it is intended. What is he actually going to do to ensure that no person in our country—not a single person—loses their life because they have a mental health condition for which they are not being treated properly?

I agree with the hon. Lady that there is a huge amount that we need to do to improve mental health provision in this country, but a huge amount has been done and is being done. As she knows, we are now seeing 1,400 more people every day with mental health conditions. We are committing huge amounts of extra money to mental health provision, and we are becoming a global leader in mental health provision, certainly according to the person in charge of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. We have to support the efforts happening in the NHS, because we are one of the best in the world.