MP under fire over hospital study plan, with full statements from Labour and Steve Baker

MP under fire over hospital study plan

MP under fire over hospital study plan

First published in News

STEVE Baker MP has defended his decision to commission a study looking at potential ways to shake up High Wycombe’s health services after a scathing attack from Labour over the health consultancy he used to look into the matter.

Mr Baker told the BFP in May of his proposals to launch a £8000 study into plans put forward by Durrow to bring key services under one roof.

The early plans could see the ambulance service stationed in the town with patients potentially visiting their GP at Wycombe Hospital - which Mr Baker believes could become the ‘centre of the local health economy’.

But it has been highlighted by rival politicians that two of the health consultancy firm’s senior leaders are Ruth Harrison and Derek Smith.

Ms Harrison oversaw controversial changes at Wycombe Hospital which led to A&E and maternity services moving to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

She also received £140,000 when she quit the NHS Trust before a report was released which criticised the way senior management handled the outbreak of a super bug at Stoke Mandeville in 2006.

According to the Healthcare Commission report, sixty-five elderly patients died at Stoke Mandeville as a "definite, probable or possible" result of the C. Difficile stomach bug outbreak over a three-year period.

The national newspapers also reported in 2011 how her husband, Mr Smith, earned £248,041 for working just 97 days over a ten month stint in charge of Dorset Count Hospital where he proposed 200 job losses and a pay freeze. He also claimed £20,000 for travel and food expenses.

Wycombe Labour has questioned Mr Baker’s judgement in selecting Durrow.

Linda Derrick, Wycombe Labour's spokesperson on health, accused Mr Baker of being "negligent" had he been unaware of the backgrounds of Ruth Harrison and Derek Smith.

She added: "He should have checked the reputations and credibility of the people who he was paying to provide him with advice on the future of Wycombe hospital - an issue close to the hearts of so many of his constituents.

"Then again perhaps he did know the backgrounds of Ruth Harrison and Derek Smith. In which case, he shows a lack of sensitivity and judgement. I can not imagine what the families of those who died at Stoke Mandeville must think."

David Williams QC, Wycombe Labour's prospective Parliamentary candidate, questioned whether Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, and the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority knew these details before clearing Mr Baker to use his parliamentary allowance to commission Durrow.

Cllr Julia Wassell, of the East Wycombe Independents party, also raised concerns. She said while the MP should look at improved healthcare options for the area, he should encourage more involvement from people and local politicians, rather than using private companies.

Mr Smith, of Durrow, told the Free Press he was 'not interested' in what had been said and did not want to get involved in party political spat.

He added: "The only thing I would say is millions of pounds have been spent by Labour on management consultants, so they are not adverse to that."

Mr Baker told the Bucks Free Press that he was determined to find a "constructive" way forward on dealing with the "irresistible trend towards centralization" of hospital services. He said he was working hard with the NHS to deliver a practical solution that met service users’ expectations and looked for options at the Conservative Public Services Policy Commission.

He said: "Only one serious proposal for a new generation of local acute hospitals emerged. It was the proposal from Durrow. That is why I asked them to set out how their ideas could be implemented by the NHS in Wycombe."

He added he would be publishing Durrow’s report on his website in the autumn, and asking the Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust to consider how it could be implemented "for everyone’s benefit".

He added he was "deeply irritated that Wycombe Labour have nothing better to offer the public than fantastic stories designed to whip up fear and despair."

He said: "I am aware that Ruth Harrison and Derek Smith work at Durrow. I have never met Ruth Harrison. Derek Smith has worked on the proposal with Andy Black.

"I am aware that Ruth Harrison was involved in the changes we suffered under Labour but to suggest she was the driving force is to fail to understand how the NHS and the health professions have changed over the years.

"It’s very easy to blame the officials who deliver policy but the fact is that policy emerges from politics and expert advice. I was not prepared to ignore a potential solution to the problem of urgent care at small hospitals just because Labour would have a line of attack."

Below are the full statements from Labour, Cllr Julia Wassell and Steve Baker, MP.

Labour:

Linda Derrick, Wycombe Labour's spokesperson on health, said: "It's always possible Steve Baker didn't know the backgrounds of Ruth Harrison and Derek Smith. Perhaps he didn't know Ms Harrison was heavily criticised in the report on the C. difficile outbreak at Stoke Mandeville.

"Perhaps he didn't know that when Ms Harrison was commissioned to do work in Epsom and St Helier NHS Ttrust, the local Tory MP, Chris Grayling, said it was "totally inappropriate she should be involved in the review." Perhaps he didn't know that Mr Smith was one of the "NHS fatcats" exposed by the Daily Telegraph, receiving nearly £3000 a day from a hospital which was millions of pounds in debt.

"But if he didn't know, he was negligent. He should have checked the reputations and credibility of the people who he was paying to provide him with advice on the future of Wycombe hospital - an issue close to the hearts of so many of his constituents.

"Then again perhaps he did know the backgrounds of Ruth Harrison and Derek Smith. In which case, he shows a lack of sensitivity and judgement. I can not imagine what the families of those who died at Stoke Mandeville must think."

David Williams QC, Wycombe Labour's prospective Parliamentary candidate, added: "This issue raises wider concerns. Steve Baker said he had clearance from Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, and the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority to use his Parliamentay allowance to commission Durrow.

"Did he know about and inform Jeremy Hunt and the IPSA about the backgrounds of Ms Harrison and Mr Smith, the driving force behind Durrow? Why did Steve Baker choose this particular consultantcy rather than one of the other organisations who could provide advice?

"Why didn't he for example go to the Kings Fund, an organisation internationally recognised for its independent and authorative expertise. Did he go to Durrow because he knew that with Durrow’s background they would give him the advice he wanted to hear? Advice that might well be the start of a process which will eventually privatise Wycombe hospital; to the financial benefit of the investors but to the detriment of the people of Wycombe?

"We need these answers urgently to see whether Steve Baker has used taxpayers money in a transparent and appropriate way."

Cllr Julia Wassell, East Wycombe Independents:

Clearly our MP should be looking at improved options for healthcare in our local area. The choice of DURROW consultancy though must be questioned.

The heart and stroke centres at Wycombe are doing very well, but people continue to find the journey to Stoke Mandeville Hospital difficult.

This is certainly the case for East Wycombe residents, Marlow residents and those in outlying villages. Some are still reporting a very long wait in MIIU and A and E. Vulnerable people are reporting difficulties also.

Steve Baker should be encouraging more involvement from local people and local politicians rather than be over reliant on private companies.

I do not support any further private equity going into the NHS. We already have a mountain of debt from PFI schemes in Bucks hospitals, possibly in excess of £500m.

It is time that political parties adopted a transparent approach to their past and present role in NHS changes and the consequences for High Wycombe residents.

Steve Baker, Wycombe MP:

Wycombe Hospital suffers from a problem which is repeated across the country. The increasing specialization of hospital doctors and their reduced working hours in training has resulted in an irresistible trend towards centralization.

That is why we lost A&E and maternity under a Labour government.

If returning lost services was as easy as issuing an order to the NHS, it would have been done long since. To suggest otherwise is an act either of ignorance or cruelty. I am working hard to help our local NHS deliver a solution which both meets public expectations of 24/7 local emergency attention for anyone and which could be delivered by the NHS as it is today. I could, like Labour, have taken the low-risk route of merely dabbing at the wounds of public anger. Wycombe people deserve better than that. That is why I am determined to find a constructive way forward.

To solve the problem in Wycombe requires a solution to the same problem at over 20 small hospitals across the country. In search of that solution, I found my way onto the Conservative Public Services Policy Commission so I would be exposed to the widest range of thinking on this problem.

Only one serious proposal for a new generation of local acute hospitals emerged. It was the proposal from Durrow. That is why I asked them to set out how their ideas could be implemented by the NHS in Wycombe.

On my desk is a draft report which explains how to deliver a new kind of casualty unit in Wycombe. In the autumn, I will publish it on my website so anyone can read it. I will be asking Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust seriously to consider how they could implement it for everyone’s benefit.

I am deeply irritated that Wycombe Labour have nothing better to offer the public than fantastic stories designed to whip up fear and despair. After four years in Parliament witnessing Labour in full cry during one sorry Opposition Day debate after another, I am not surprised but I do hope they will be found out by local people.

I am aware that Ruth Harrison and Derek Smith work at Durrow. I have never met Ruth Harrison. Derek Smith has worked on the proposal with Andy Black.

I am aware that Ruth Harrison was involved in the changes we suffered under Labour but to suggest she was the driving force is to fail to understand how the NHS and the health professions have changed over the years.

It’s very easy to blame the officials who deliver policy but the fact is that policy emerges from politics and expert advice. I was not prepared to ignore a potential solution to the problem of urgent care at small hospitals just because Labour would have a line of attack.

The remuneration of public officials and their advisors became a national byword for extravagance under Labour. I have no doubt that if the NHS were organized along the old, old Left principles of mutuality and co-operation which I have consistently advocated then this excessive remuneration would be brought swiftly to an end. I will take no lessons on the subject from Labour. I expect a Conservative government to press constantly to drive up value for money.

Labour allowed public spending to spiral catastrophically out of control while failing to secure a better future for the nation’s small hospitals like Wycombe. They also left us with an NHS which was failing patients. Thanks to the Keogh Review put in place by this Government and the special measures which followed, the NHS has had "a wake-up call" as one senior NHS manager put it to me.

Of course Wycombe Labour will campaign as we approach the election but I think the public would be much more impressed if their candidate acted in the public interest on our hospital instead of manufacturing scare stories.

I am passionate about the services at our hospital so I refuse to cave in to Labour’s bullying tactics. I am determined to fight for the future of our hospital, however hard Wycombe Labour may make it to do what is right.

Comments (7)

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9:46am Fri 1 Aug 14

MunsterX says...

Perhaps Mr Baker might find this an interesting read:

http://www.bucksfree
press.co.uk/news/211
4840.Controversial_N
HS_boss_related_to_S
t_Helier_chief/?ref=
ar

It appears he is guilty of more than just negligence, here we have gross misconduct in a public office.
Perhaps Mr Baker might find this an interesting read: http://www.bucksfree press.co.uk/news/211 4840.Controversial_N HS_boss_related_to_S t_Helier_chief/?ref= ar It appears he is guilty of more than just negligence, here we have gross misconduct in a public office. MunsterX
  • Score: 7

9:50am Fri 1 Aug 14

MunsterX says...

Durrow have submitted their accounts late six out of ten times in the past decade:

http://www.companies
intheuk.co.uk/ltd/du
rrow
Durrow have submitted their accounts late six out of ten times in the past decade: http://www.companies intheuk.co.uk/ltd/du rrow MunsterX
  • Score: 7

9:52am Sat 2 Aug 14

mistamina says...

''Mr Smith, of Durrow, told the Free Press he was 'not interested' in what had been said and did not want to get involved in party political spat.''

Return all the money then!
''Mr Smith, of Durrow, told the Free Press he was 'not interested' in what had been said and did not want to get involved in party political spat.'' Return all the money then! mistamina
  • Score: 6

11:23am Sun 3 Aug 14

MunsterX says...

The CPS must bring criminal proceedings against Baker.

He states in the article:

"Only one serious proposal for a new generation of local acute hospitals emerged. It was the proposal from Durrow. That is why I asked them to set out how their ideas could be implemented by the NHS in Wycombe."

Well Mr Baker, only one serious proposal was received because only they new the work was available! Or is Mr Baker claiming that he allowed the market to competitively tender for the work?

How duplicitous!
The CPS must bring criminal proceedings against Baker. He states in the article: "Only one serious proposal for a new generation of local acute hospitals emerged. It was the proposal from Durrow. That is why I asked them to set out how their ideas could be implemented by the NHS in Wycombe." Well Mr Baker, only one serious proposal was received because only they new the work was available! Or is Mr Baker claiming that he allowed the market to competitively tender for the work? How duplicitous! MunsterX
  • Score: -1

9:46pm Sun 3 Aug 14

QualityCare4all says...

This just confirms the level of ignorance that our politicians have about health and social care services.
It is foolish to just look at health services in wycombe without understanding the whole health and social care system in Bucks, Berks, Oxford and London! Not forgetting the rest of England!
Given the current funding arrangements and the way in which hopsital work (inefficiently, doing more of the same rather than working smarter) they cannot continue to provide high quality care with out changes.
But the changes must be across the whole region and must include all care services.
This just confirms the level of ignorance that our politicians have about health and social care services. It is foolish to just look at health services in wycombe without understanding the whole health and social care system in Bucks, Berks, Oxford and London! Not forgetting the rest of England! Given the current funding arrangements and the way in which hopsital work (inefficiently, doing more of the same rather than working smarter) they cannot continue to provide high quality care with out changes. But the changes must be across the whole region and must include all care services. QualityCare4all
  • Score: -3

3:00pm Mon 4 Aug 14

Bartholomew HuckleBerry says...

This useless MP is not fit for purpose ! A total waste and absolutely useless crony for the private company vultures !
This useless MP is not fit for purpose ! A total waste and absolutely useless crony for the private company vultures ! Bartholomew HuckleBerry
  • Score: 0

4:41pm Tue 5 Aug 14

Mr Silent Majority says...

LOL at the usual responses! Funny that the Labour lady doesn't mention the 13 years of negligence by her government.

So, the MP decides to use money from his parliamentary budget to fund a survey into ways to improve the service that we can receive in Wycombe (and other towns around the country) - well good for him, because I don't see anything offered in terms of realistic options from negligent Labour.
LOL at the usual responses! Funny that the Labour lady doesn't mention the 13 years of negligence by her government. So, the MP decides to use money from his parliamentary budget to fund a survey into ways to improve the service that we can receive in Wycombe (and other towns around the country) - well good for him, because I don't see anything offered in terms of realistic options from negligent Labour. Mr Silent Majority
  • Score: 1

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