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Volume 660: debated on Thursday 16 May 2019


Thursday 16 May 2019


Health and Social Care

Maintenance of stroke services at Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother Hospital Margate

The petition of residents of the constituency of South Thanet,

Declares that the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate is much valued by local residents and is the only regional general hospital servicing the population of Thanet and the north and east Kent coastal communities; further that the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups for the Kent and Medway Stroke Review have concluded that stroke services at the QEQM will be closed in favour of three Hyper-acute Stroke Units to serve Kent and Medway with Darent Valley, Maidstone and Ashford hospitals being the preferred future sites, this will leave local residents with a journey time of an hour to the nearest hospital to receive stroke care.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reference back to the Secretary of State the conclusions of the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee in Kent to ensure that the outcome thus far presented is credible and soundly based and whether the maintenance of stroke services at QEQM would not be the better option for local clinical care.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Craig Mackinlay , Official Report, 19 March 2019; Vol. 656, c. 1180.]


Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Seema Kennedy):

The reconfiguration of services is a matter for the local NHS. It is right that these matters are addressed at a level where the local healthcare needs are best understood rather than in Whitehall. The proposed service change has recently been referred to the Secretary of State who will decide whether to refer the matter to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for Investigation.

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Local facilities on the Hull Boothferry Estate

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that the facilities on the Boothferry Estate in Hull are woefully inadequate and need to be improved, notes that there is only a single pharmacy to support a population of 3028 and further notes that Hull City Council has lost one pound in every three from its budget since this government came to office in 2010.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to release more money to Hull City Council to improve local facilities on the Boothferry Estate.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Emma Hardy , Official Report, 8 April 2019; Vol. 658, c. 146 .]


Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Rishi Sunak):

Local authorities are democratically elected organisations and so are independent from central Government. They are responsible for managing their financial budgets and for making spending decisions in line with their priority needs. The issue of local authority spending priorities is ultimately a matter for local discretion.

All of Government have had to make to make savings to help deliver our deficit reduction programme. The Government’s approach is working and we are seeing positive signs for the future, but we know demand on services is increasing. As announced in the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019-20, there is a cash-terms increase of 2.8% funding for English councils; rising from £45.1 billion in 2018-19 to £46.4 billion in 2019-20. Hull City Council has £214.6 million available for 2019-20, an increase of 2.4% on 2018-19.

The overall level of future funding available for local government will be a matter for the spending review. This is our opportunity to look at Local Government spending in the round; and I want to ensure that councils have the resources and flexibilities to deliver efficiently and effectively.

Community Pharmacies are private businesses and make their own business decisions on whether or not to open. Market entry is governed by legislation that requires local authorities to carry out a pharmaceutical needs assessment and the local NHS England team to have consideration of that assessment when considering applications to join the pharmaceutical list to provide NHS services in an area.

The Government protect patient access to pharmaceutical services through the Pharmacy Access Scheme which tops up pharmacy incomes for those pharmacies that are 1 mile from their next nearest pharmacy and dispensed less than 109,012 prescriptions in 2015/16, the year when eligibility was determined. The Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment for Hull states that the provision of pharmaceutical services in the Boothferry Ward is considered adequate by the local authority.


Closure of Suggitts Lane Level Crossing, Cleethorpes

The petition of residents of North East Lincolnshire,

Declares that the proposed closure of the level crossing (number 42, O.S. Grid ref. TA300097) at Suggitts Lane Level Cleethorpes by National Rail is at this time not warranted, and substantial investment and enactment of safety at the crossing should be explored and enacted before any other option is considered. This is to avoid loss of a vital historic, public amenity and would also result in a significant proportion of the public (who for health and disability reasons are unable to use the footbridge) being denied access to the Sea Front and Local Amenities.

The petitioners therefore urge the House of Commons urges to instruct Network Rail to consult with users of the crossing in order to establish a viable plan to keep the crossing open.

And the Petitioners remain —[Presented by Martin Vickers , Official Report, 9 April 2019; Vol. 658, c. 147 .]


Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Andrew Jones):

The UK has one of the safest railways in Europe, but this Government strive to ensure that safety continues to be improved. Level crossings remain one of the most significant risks to public safety on the railway network and it is therefore right that, where justified and practicable, they are closed to eliminate this risk. However, this should not be at the expense of local community access to both sides of the railway.

I am well aware of the complex issues surrounding Suggitt’s Lane level crossing and the depth of feeling in the local community. Whilst it remains the responsibility of Network Rail, as the infrastructure manager for the railway, to take the decision on whether to close the private crossing, I have urged it to arrange a meeting at the earliest opportunity between all parties that have an interest in Suggitt’s Lane. I have made it clear that this meeting should include North East Lincolnshire Council, local residents’ representatives and, of course, Network Rail itself. This should provide an opportunity for the concerns of the local community to be considered. I hope that this meeting will enable all parties to agree a solution that addresses both the safety and accessibility issues relating to Suggitt’s Lane.