Last summer, the trust decided that it could not replace an orthopaedic surgeon, but the flow of orthopaedic work did not diminish as expected. At Christmas time, staff were made redundant and wards were closed—that happened under Labour, I remind the Minister. Now, in the new year, it suddenly appears that there is so much orthopaedic work to be done that patients’ waiting times will hit the cliff edge of the new 18-week target that has been agreed, so more money has been found in order to make sure that that does not happen.
In fact, the treatments proposed will be more expensive than would have been the case if the trust had been able to replace the consultant and follow a normal pattern of work from summer until the end of the year. More money will go into the private sector, and money will be spent on evening operations if the staff can be found to do them, because Bedford Hospital NHS Trust is now readvertising for staff whom they sacked just a few weeks ago in the round of cuts at Christmas time. If the Minister can sit before us and think that he is presiding over an efficient and effective national health service as far as economics and financing are concerned, I am extremely surprised at him. He has a mess in those regards, which he must deal with. How can we have any confidence in the review if that is the economic basis underpinning it and under which hospitals will run?
Well said, Alistair