HC Deb 21 July 1958 vol 592 c9
19. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health to what extent hospitals for the treatment of tuberculosis have been closed down or contracted during the past five years; and how many beds are now reserved for patients suffering from some form of this disease compared with 1953.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The number of hospital beds allocated to tuberculosis in England and Wales decreased by 8,935 between 31st December, 1952, and 31st December, 1957, when the numbers were 35,293 and 26,358, respectively.

Mr. Sorensen

To what general cause or causes does the Minister attribute this encouraging decline? Can we take it that some of the hospitals which were previously used for the treatment of tuberculosis are now being used as general hospitals?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I think the root cause of the decline is the advances in medicine and science in dealing with this matter, which is very gratifying indeed. As to surplus accommodation, the hospital authorities are, of course, well aware of the importance of ensuring that beds no longer required for the treatment of tuberculosis are, when suitable, put to some other use, but inevitably there is some time lag on occasion in effecting the appropriate switch-over.

Dr. Summerskill

What is the Minister's policy in allocating these beds to patients suffering from other diseases?

Mr. Walker-Smith

My policy is to make the best use at the earliest possible moment of all accommodation that becomes available.