News Date: Monday 27th November 2006
Tim challenges the Prime Minister on 8 week wait at Worthing Hospital
At Prime Minister's Question time in the House of Commons last Wednesday East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton challenged the Prime Minister on the decision by the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority to impose an extra eight week wait on patients referred by their GPs to see consultants at Worthing Hospital and other Sussex hospitals.
The South East Coast Strategic Health Authority have written to all the Chief Executive of all health trusts in the area informing them that unless hospitals reduced the level of routine referrals under eight weeks they would support the relevant PCT with the non-payment for the treatment.
"It is shocking that patients' health is being put at risk in this manner. What is the point of the health authorities employing these consultants if only to insist they sit around twiddling their stethoscopes all day. Of course we need to sort out NHS finances and the massive SHA debt but this must not be at the expense of people who urgently need hospital treatment.
"The demand for services at Worthing hospital is growing as the local population increases in size - the healthcare available needs to be expanded not constricted by bureaucrats and accountants.
"This is yet more bad news for the KWASH campaign to save Worthing and Southlands hospitals from the cuts proposed by the Strategic Health Authority. I hope this decision is not a sign of things to come.
"I am very impressed by the some consultant's decision to continue to see as many patients as possible despite the fact they won't be paid but they shouldn't have to do this. The lives of patients will continue to be at risk unless the health authorities reverse their decision."
Notes to Editors:
1) To read the full transcript of Tim's exchange with the Prime Minister please visit http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm061122/debtext/61122-0003.htm or see below:
Q5.  Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con): Is the Prime Minister aware that consultants at Worthing hospital, which is threatened with downgrading because it is in a Conservative area, have been told that they must not see their patients before eight weeks, even if their patients' conditions deteriorate? Those consultants believe that it is unethical for them not to continue to see their patients and they do not want to spend their time sitting around twiddling their stethoscopes, even if it means that the hospital does not get paid. Who is acting in the best interests of those patients -- the consultants or the failed accountants at the strategic health authority sorting out the financial mess in the NHS?
The Prime Minister: Of course, the consultants in the hon. Gentleman's constituency and elsewhere should do what is ethical and what is right for their patients. The decisions are taken, obviously, by the local primary care trust and the strategic health authority, but let me point out two things to the hon. Gentleman. As a result of the investment that we have made in the national health service, which he opposed, there are 4,500 more nurses in his strategic health authority and almost 600 more consultants. Let me tell the Conservatives something. They talk about the inequality or inadequacy of the health funding and its disbursement, but their policy is to ensure that
"NHS resource allocation...reflects more accurately the fact that most NHS resources should be given to those areas where the disease burden is highest."
That is his policy. If we did that, we would have to reduce health service spending in his area. [Interruption.] Yes, I am afraid that he is wrong and I am right, and what is more, as a result of this Government's policy we have increased investment in his area by more than 30 per cent. That is what a Labour Government do after the Tories years of neglect.
2) For more information about the KWASH campaign please visit www.kwash.org.uk or contact Ruth Farrer-Langton in Tim Loughton's office on 020 7219 1622
Tim Loughton MP , 2006