|NHS Reform and Health Care
Dr. Harris: The Minister claims that I want to pin the blame on Ministers for underperformance and then take away their power to manage that performance. He thinks that that is having my cake and eating it. That is an accurate reflection of the position, but it is not I want. I want the NHS to be depoliticised except in terms of the funding settlement, because it is the Government who raise taxes. The best chief executives, health authority managers and PCT clinicians do not, off their own bat, have the power to raise extra resources in a fair and equitable way. That is what the discussion of Government performance should be about. But while the Government set performance targets, retain the interest in managing various issues and take credit for delivering them, it is right that that when they fail they should be held to account.
The Government are trying to ensure that the blame is devolved while the credit is centralised. They should not impose politically driven targets on health authorities. The hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire should put himself in the position of a patient in an area that is defunded because it failed to meet the targets, perhaps because it did not have the money or the staff to do so, as the funding, which could be theirs if it was allocated fairly, will reward those who have done the Government's bidding, regardless of the impact on patients.
Mr. Heald: Does the hon. Gentleman understand that, because of time constraints, we shall not have the opportunity to debate my amendments, which deal with that matter?
Dr. Harris: If that is the case, I recognise it. I shall not press the amendments now. The Minister will probably point out their drafting problems, but I shall want to return to the same issues later in the Bill. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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