§ The Prime Minister
The petition referred to by the hon. Gentleman has been received and a full reply will be made in due course by the DHSS.
Liverpool's population is projected to decline by more than 10 per cent. over the next decade. In addition, the district health authority is currently overfunded by 7 per cent. according to the Resource Allocation Working Party formula. Moreover, the catchment area for which Liverpool's hospitals provide acute services will reduce because of new development in neighbouring health authorities. Inevitably, Liverpool's revenue allocation must be adjusted to reflect these changes. At the same time, additional resources will be required to improve local services for the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped. The net effect of all these changes is that Liverpool health authority revenue is projected to decrease by 4.6 per cent. by 1994. In order to help with these major changes more than £30 million capital will be made available to Liverpool over the next six years. This sum will ensure that the diminished level of acute services will be provided in hospitals of better quality. Services for the elderly, mentally ill and mentally handicapped will be improved through the provision of new or refurbished inpatient facilities and day hospitals.
We have no proposals for privatisation of the National Health Service. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services has asked health authorities to seek competitive tenders, including in-house tenders, for their cleaning, catering and laundry services. This will ensure that these services are provided to the required standards as cost effectively as possible by the lowest tenderer which may be either the in-house service or an outside contractor. Money that is saved will be used to improve patient care services still further in Liverpool.
I am confident that the long-term strategy for health services in Liverpool will provide the right level of services for the city's needs.