David Ruffley MP raises concerns of consultants at West Suffolk Hospital with Minister in Commons Chamber.

Tuesday, 26 April, 2011

On the 26 April 2011 David Ruffley MP questioned Health Minister Simon Burns on health reforms which would directly affect West Suffolk Hospital:

Mr David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds) (Con): 'Clinicians at the West Suffolk hospital in Bury St Edmunds are concerned that they will get the same tariff for an operation as a private sector provider, even though the NHS has to carry the cost of training whereas, on the whole, the private sector does not. What steps will the Minister take to address this perceived unfairness?'

Mr Burns: 'I should like to reassure my hon. Friend. As he will know, we do not propose to introduce price competition into the NHS; rather, we propose to introduce competition based on quality. His clinicians are correct that the price will be the same. However, they must remember that we are going to stop the practice of the last Government, who, with independent sector treatment centres, paid the private sector over 11% more per operation than they were prepared to pay the national health service.'

Mr Ruffley said: 'The devil is in the detail where the Government's health reforms are concerned. The Minister only half answered my question, which local doctors at the West Suffolk Hospital prompted me to ask. Put simply it is this: a private sector company will receive the same payment for, say, a hip operation as the West Suffolk NHS Hospital. Yet the West Suffolk has more costs to cover than the private sector because our NHS has to spend time and money training our doctors and nurses. In short, it is not a level playing field, and disadvantages our NHS. That is why during Mr Lansley's summer review of his reforms he must address my concern. I will be meeting him personally before the Summer Recess to make exactly that point. '