Michael Fabricant today expressed concern that the departure of Alan Milburn
as Health Minister may slow down much needed reforms in the NHS –
particularly in the West Midlands. Michael Fabricant says: "Whatever
differences I and my Conservative colleagues had on the detail of running
the NHS, I was pleased that Alan Milburn recognised that the NHS could not
continue as it is. It is the biggest employer in Europe and a behemoth.
Despite all the hard work put in by doctors, nurses, and other health
professionals, no amount of tax payers’ money has succeeded in cutting the
inefficiencies or waiting times. I hope that the new Health Minister, Dr
John Reid, will not reverse the hesitant steps Alan Milburn took in
reforming the NHS.
"The West Midlands region has always received less money than elsewhere per
head of population and there is a real need to boost our better hospitals as
well as protect our weaker ones. Alan Milburn’s plan to introduce
free-standing and independent Foundation hospitals is bitterly opposed by
his own Labour back-benchers. But it would have been a small start at
tackling the problem. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go far enough and only 3
or more star hospitals would be eligible for Foundation status. The sad
state of affairs in our area is underscored by the fact that there are no 3
star hospitals in either Staffordshire or Shropshire", Michael adds.
Meanwhile, in the House of Commons on Thursday 12th June, Michael Fabricant
paid tribute to Alan Milburn. Speaking across the Chamber to the Leader of
the House, Dr John Reid, shortly before he was made the new Health Minister,
Michael said (from Hansard):
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield): At a time when the national health service
is building a new hospital in Lichfield that has fewer facilities than we
currently enjoy, may I express my personal regret at the departure of the
right hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn) from his position as
Secretary of State for Health and the reasons for his departure? Hon.
Members on both sides of the House will recognise that he recognised that
major structural change is needed in the NHS. May I ask that, at some time,
a debate be held on Foundation hospitals and their future?
Dr. Reid: On the last point, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there
will be time for that and I look forward to it. I thank him for his
comments. They are courteous and in character. I agree entirely. It was with
deep regret that I found out that my right hon. Friend the Member for
Darlington (Mr. Milburn) decided to resign from Government. It is shocking
in the short term, but I believe that in the long term it will be seen to be
a correct judgment on his part. There are many reasons, had he given me
them, that I would have argued ferociously against, but to choose his family
over his future career does not cause me to argue against him. I thank the
hon. Gentleman. Whatever difficulties remain, there remain great
challenges in the health service.