HC Deb 18 December 1990 vol 183 cc137-8
1. Mr. Battle

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the views of Coopers and Lybrand Deloitte commissioned by his Department on the self-governing trust implications from St. James's hospital, Leeds and Leeds general infirmary; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr. William Waldegrave)

No, Sir. The appraisals are confidential documents prepared to help inform my assessment of proposed national health service trusts.

Mr. Battle

That answer is most disappointing because the budget submissions from Leeds general infirmary and St. James's are based on massive underestimates of inflation and on land sales and a large increase in private beds, and it is widely believed that a third of the applicants for self-governing trust status are already massively overspending on their capital budgets. Why cannot the Department make available to the House a full appraisal including all the financial facts, so that the Government can be fully publicly accountable for budget decisions in this crucial area?

Mr. Waldegrave

We are fully accountable and I stand accountable to the House. A range of different advice was offered to us and there would be no more point in publishing the bits that the hon. Gentleman wants than there would any other bits. They were my decisions, taken against the background of the information available to me.

Mr. Batiste

But is not the reality that those two great hospitals, St. James's and Leeds general infirmary, are among the largest in Europe and that the only way in which they can fulfil their potential and deliver the best service to their patients—which after all, is what it is all about—is by stripping away excessive layers of bureaucracy? In today's world, is not self-governing status within the NHS the best way of achieving what really matters, which is patient care?

Mr. Waldegrave

My hon. Friend knows these hospitals well and he puts his finger on the fundamental point. Many of the people who object to the return of those hospitals to management from within the hospital probably objected when the bureaucratic system was set up from which they are now escaping.

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