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Hospitals in Special Measures

Volume 635: debated on Tuesday 6 February 2018

11. What recent progress he has made on improving the performance of hospitals in special measures. (903783)

It is five years today since the landmark publication of the Francis report on the Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust. Since then the NHS has made a huge number of changes, not the least being that 34 trusts have gone into special measures and 19 have come out. I particularly congratulate the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust on coming out of special measures in January and securing a “good” score for its caring: that was a fantastic achievement by its staff.

Given that York’s local health service is in special measures, the additional funds in the Budget to deal with winter health pressures were very welcome. I am pleased to say that York NHS has already received a tranche of those funds, but the remainder of its share has not been released, although discussions with NHS Improvement are ongoing. Will the Secretary of State undertake to look into the situation, as a matter of urgency?

The Secretary of State will be aware of the importance of King’s College Hospital to my constituents. In 2009, it was rated “excellent” and one of the top hospitals in the country; now it is missing its A&E waiting time targets and a key cancer treatment target, there has been a fourfold increase in the number of cancelled operations, and it is in special measures. The Government must take some responsibility for that. They must not wash their hands of it. Will they step up to the plate and help King’s by, for instance, giving it the resources that it needs?

Let me reassure the right hon. and learned Lady that we do not wash our hands of any trusts that go into special measures. The point of the special measures regime is to highlight where Government intervention is necessary. I know the right hon. and learned Lady will agree that a huge amount of very fine treatment happens at King’s every single day, but it is having profound issues in relation to the management of its finances and some of its waiting times, which is why we are doing everything we can to support it.

With a high delayed-discharge rate of 10%, Kettering General Hospital, which is in special measures, has 60 patients on any one day who have completed their treatment and await their transfer into the community. Northamptonshire County Council has been given millions of pounds, via the better care fund, but it is simply not up to the job. What can be done in those circumstances?

I am well aware of the pressures at Kettering. It is a very busy hospital, and it has undergone a number of changes of management. However, I can reassure my hon. Friend that a big improvement package is there to support it and that we want to take it out of special measures as soon as possible.

The previous chair of King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust resigned because he had concluded that the funding provided for King’s had placed the trust in an impossible position. The current interim chair has said that the proportion of GDP spent on health and social care needs to rise to match that in other European countries if our NHS is to be sustainable. When will the Secretary of State heed the warning cries and commit the funding that King’s and, more widely, our NHS need in order to deliver care to our constituents?

We spend 9.9% of our GDP on health. The European Union spends 15%, and the richer EU countries spend 9.6%—slightly less than us, on average. We are able to spend more because this Government put the economy back on its feet.