HC Deb 21 January 1954 vol 522 cc1178-80
18. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Minister of Health whether the closing of Spring-field Maternity Home, Blackburn, was carried out with his approval; and what consultations took place with the doctors in charge of the patients in question before their patients were ordered to leave the maternity home.

Mr. Iain Macleod

No approval on my part was needed, but I was aware of the proposal and saw no reason to dissent. I am informed that when the home was closed on 8th January last, seven patients were sent home and five transferred elsewhere. Steps were taken to consult all the doctors concerned before action was taken. The doctors of the seven discharged patients were consulted and accepted the proposal. The doctor of one of the transferred patients objected; the other four, unfortunately, could not be reached before transfer but a message was left for them.

I regret that more time was not available for consultation, but I understand that no ill effects have followed the transfer.

Mr. Hynd

Is the Minister aware that his information about whether the doctors were consulted is quite inaccurate, as he will see from correspondence which he must have received from the Lancashire local medical committee, the British Medical Association and other bodies? Will he look into the matter again because of the indignation expressed locally about the high-handed way in which the closing took place?

Mr. Macleod

The information was given to me by the medical authorities in all good faith and I have given it in all good faith to the House. It may be wrong, but I shall be happy to look into it again.

Mr. Fort

Can my right hon. Friend tell us for what Springfield Home is to be used as a result of this precipitate evacuation of children from it and how soon it will be put to new uses, if any?

Mr. Macleod

That point is important, because Springfield has not been lost to the National Health Service. It was a 20-bed general practitioner maternity home and is to become a home for 30 chronic sick. There will be no delay in moving in; indeed, I am told that the first 10 patients will be moved in next Monday.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many women in my constituency are being compelled to have their babies at home against their will owing to the shortage of the maternity beds, and that the closing of Springfield will make the situation worse? What action is the right hon. Gentleman proposing to take to remedy the situation so that women who want to have babies in a maternity home can do so?

Mr. Macleod

Even after the Springfield closure the number of G.P. beds available is 50 per cent., which is much higher than in most parts of the country. So far as I know adequate arrangements have been made for the use of Bull Hill as a maternity home. I think that everyone was satisfied that after the closing of Springfield there would still be fully adequate maternity beds available. The question was whether medical practitioner consultant beds should be closed.

Mr. Hynd

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.