Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, this week backed the action plan unveiled by Conservatives to improve hospitals in Hertfordshire and across the country, including reducing waiting times and clamping down on dirty wards which are breeding grounds for dangerous ?superbugs? like MRSA. The plans are detailed in Conservatives? new health manifesto.

    Peter Lilley said: “Mr Blair has spent billions of pounds of taxpayers? money, but today there are too many bureaucrats, too many dirty hospitals and too many people waiting for treatment. Despite the hard work and professionalism of our doctors and nurses, the NHS is failing many people who have been forgotten by Labour.

    “Since I began campaigning about superbugs, I have been contacted by medical staff who say the problem is being made worse by all the centrally imposed targets which override their clinical priorities. For example, just to manipulate the waiting list figures, patients with infectious diseases are brought into wards where patients are being treated with open wound surgery. That means patients lives were put at risk to meet a spin doctor?s target.

    “I am concerned that many people in Hertfordshire, particularly elderly people, are now worried about entering hospital because of fears about catching superbugs. Vulnerable people need the peace of mind that they will be treated quickly in clean hospitals.

    “Our local hospitals used to have a particularly severe problem and I congratulate staff on reducing the level of infection to the national average. But it is a sad fact that the level of infection in Britain is now worse, and getting worse faster, than any other country in Western Europe.?

    The manifesto includes a number of measures to increase the quality and quantity of health care across Hertfordshire including:

    ? Cleaner hospitals: Matrons will be re-introduced so that there is one person in each hospital responsible for delivering a clean and safe environment in hospitals. Inspection teams will also be given the authority to close infected wards and overrule managers.

    ? Shorter waiting times: Patients will be given the Right to Choose any NHS hospital. In addition, patients will be able to get free treatment on the NHS at any independent hospital that costs no more than the NHS. We will also contribute towards patients who choose a more expensive independent hospital, so freeing up the NHS to cut waiting times.

    ? Extra money, better value: By the end of the next Parliament, health spending will be ?34 billion more than the level to be inherited from Labour. Moreover, it will be spent better. Strategic Health authorities would go and the Primary Care Trusts would be streamlined which would release ?1.3 billion for further investment on the front line.

    ? Long-term care: We will ensure that no-one has to sell their home to pay for long-term care fees.

    ? More NHS dentists: We will provide a framework for NHS dentistry, attractive to dentists and affordable and accessible to patients. We will seek to reverse the decline in the number of people registered with an NHS dentist since 1997.

    Peter Lilley concluded: “Another term under Mr Blair would mean that patients would go on waiting and hospitals wouldn?t get any cleaner. Voters face a clear choice at the election:- cleaner hospitals and shorter waiting times with Conservatives, or dirty hospitals and longer waiting times under Mr Blair.?

    Notes to Editors

    The health chapter of the Conservatives general election manifesto was published on 16 February 2005, and can be downloaded via: http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=news.story.page&obj_id=119785

    Local MRSA figures

    MRSA (?Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus?) are bacteria that have become resistant to various antibiotics, including penicillin-based ones, making treatment of a patient very difficult.

    Department of Health, Mandatory Bacteraemia Surveillance Scheme, April 2001 – March 2004. http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/08/58/93/04085893.pdf

    Strategic Health Authority Number of MRSA reports 01-02 Number of MRSA reports 03-04 % Increase from 01-02 to 03-04 MRSA rate per 1,000 bed-days in 2003-04

    Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire
    Bedford Hospitals NHS Trust 21 26 +24% 0.18
    East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust 72 56 -22% 0.19
    Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Trust 22 21 -5% 0.12
    West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust 77 45 -42% 0.17