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Farron highlights threat to Coronary Care Unit in House of Commons

May 16, 2006 6:12 PM

Local MP Tim Farron today used Health Questions in the House of Commons to highlight the threat to the Westmorland General's Coronary Care Unit. He pointed out the unit could close due to the local hospital trust's deficit, which pales into insignificance when compared to the over spend on the new NHS IT system 'Connecting for Health'.

Currently, the total deficit for all NHS trusts nationally is around £800million, while the new IT system is already £4billion over budget, a figure which could top £10billion.

In his question, Tim asked: "The Secretary of State has told us that this computer system will cost £6.2 billion, but the chief operating officer of the project predicts costs in excess of £15 billion. Meanwhile, Westmorland General Hospital's Coronary Care Unit faces an uncertain future due to deficits that pale in comparison. Will the Secretary of State commit today to a full independent technical and financial audit of this computer system to ensure that public money is spent on the public's priorities?"

In response, the minister refused to commit to a review, and failed to comment on Tim's point about the ultimate cost of the new IT system.

Speaking later, Tim said: "Local residents are rightly concerned about the closure of services like the Coronary Care Unit - especially when the Government appears to be letting the costs of this new IT system spiral out of control. We understand that we need a modern IT system for the NHS, but we need to make sure that its costs are kept under control, and that public money is spent on the public's priorities - which include keeping services like the CCU operating."