Sir Mike Penning calls for a Parliamentary debate on how to hold administrations such as the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust accountable to the people they serve.
I was slightly surprised when the shadow Leader of the House referred to me in her opening comments; I did not know anything about that and it would have been a nice courtesy to have let me know. More importantly, people should not believe everything they read in the press. I probably wrote that sort of thing many years ago when I was a journalist.
A more important issue to my constituents is the future of a new hospital in Hemel Hempstead, an issue that I have raised in the House many times. The Prime Minister quite rightly and fantastically announced six new hospitals in the initial plan. However, my local trust, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, has no intention of building a new hospital; it wants to refurbish an old Victorian hospital next to a football ground in Watford. May we have a debate on how we hold trusts accountable? I have tried several times with Adjournment debates and have asked the Leader of the House about this issue. Many Members of this House have said to me that they feel frustrated that they cannot hold their own local health trusts to account when things like this are going on. This is nothing to do with the frontline—it is nothing to do with the brilliant work that has been going on over years and in respect of covid; it is to do with the management of trusts and how we can hold them to account.
My right hon. Friend raises a fundamental point about how we are governed and how we hold Administrations to account. Historically, that was done through Ministers, who had direct responsibility for and authority over how things were done. However, in recent years, and indeed decades, there has been a tendency to pass things over to unaccountable bodies, and that is a matter that the House is justified in wanting to debate.