Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    NHS Hospitals (private sector management)

    Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): Is the Secretary of State aware that people in my constituency do not care whether managers are private sector or public sector managers so long as they are competent? We are relieved and grateful that his Minister overruled the decision of local managers to close the maternity and children‘s units at Hemel Hempstead general hospital and decided to try and keep them open. However, is not that decision a vote of no confidence, echoing the vote of no confidence in local management by all parties on St. Albans district council? Local managers have made it more difficult to keep those units alive by their decision to announce a closure, leading to the resignation of large numbers of staff and the biggest nurse shortages in any county in the country.

    Mr. Milburn: I shall certainly not stand here and condemn local management out of hand when I do not know the facts. I shall be very happy to look into the right hon. Gentleman‘s allegations. However, managing any public service, particularly the national health service,

    26 Feb 2002 : Column 549