New Forest East



Dr Julian Lewis: This debate gives me such a sense of déjà vu, because a few weeks ago I initiated a debate about how Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which has a bed occupancy rate of over 90%, wants to close 35% of its acute beds. Like my hon. Friend, it took me a long time to get the statistics from the Trust. When I asked for them to broken down in a different way, the breakdown showed twice as many beds being vacant as the first lot of calculations did. In other words, the trust has not got a clue what its own statistics add up to, yet it is intent on closing beds. Accurate statistics must be central to any consideration, and I think that my hon. Friend and I ought to go and see the Minister about this, if he would be willing to see us.

[Andrew Griffiths: My hon. Friend makes an incredibly important point. He has been vociferous in campaigning on behalf of his local residents – as I am attempting to do – and I share his concerns. None of us is a backwoodsman, and none of us wants to ignore the facts, but the facts that are being presented to us by the PCTs are not the facts. When we dig down and look at the assertions that the PCTs are making, they simply do not add up. ...]

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[The Minister of State, Department of Health (Paul Burstow): ... A number of Adjournment debates in recent weeks have raised the issue of data on bed occupancy and the definitions on which they are based. I will not undertake to arrange a meeting, but I will undertake to ensure that work is done in the Department, which I will examine, to establish how well the data are collected and how clear they are.]

Dr Lewis: I am very satisfied with the Minister's offer, but may I suggest that the Audit Commission – the only organisation that seems to produce reliable figures – has a chance to look at what we have discovered in our trusts? As I have said, the figures that are given to us are not reliable where I am, and, as I have heard tonight, they are not reliable where my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Andrew Griffiths) is either.

[Mr Burstow: I will certainly try to ensure that the data sets that we have are robust, although the future of the Audit Commission is perhaps a moot point in tonight's debate. ...]