§ 24. Mr. Dunn
asked the Minister of Health if he will state the weekly cost, in expenditure and depreciation of equipment, of Liverpool Stanley Hospital standing idle; if he will state the aggregate cost since the hospital closed; from which funds the cost is being borne; and for how long he proposes this state of affairs should continue.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. Kenneth Robinson)
Excluding depreciation of equipment, which cannot readily be assessed but is small, about £300 per week; £5,367 up to the end of May; from Exchequer funds allocated to the board of governors for running the United Liverpool Hospitals; so long as the possible need to re-open this hospital remains.
§ Mr. Dunn
I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but is he not aware that this is still a subject of much concern in the Kirkdale constituency and constituencies geographically allied to mine? Will he take the necessary steps to bring to the notice of the regional hospital board the cost involved in depreciation and idle equipment, and, at the same time, ask that immediate action be taken to bring forward proposals for the use of this building and the idle equipment now standing there?
§ Mr. Robinson
As my hon. Friend knows, this hospital is being retained on a care and maintenance basis in the period before the new department at Walton Hospital comes into service in, possibly, May, 1966, in case the other hospitals in the area cannot cope with the work previously done there. On the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I now have under consideration a proposal that the regional hospital board should reopen the hospital as one in a series of consequential moves arising from the impending closure of a hospital accommodating geriatric patients.
§ Mrs. Braddock
Has my right hon. Friend any information about pressure by the previous Government to close this hospital as soon as possible? Is he aware that the board of governors was under very great pressure to close it, and had to close it, because of decisions taken by the previous Minister of Health?
§ Mr. Robinson
Since I came into office, the matter has come before me also; but it was generally considered that the right answer was to close it and to keep it on a care and maintenance basis during the interim period. It may well be that a different use will now he found for the hospital.
§ Mr. Tilney
Is it not a great pity that this hospital is not used in any way, whereas the chest hospital, also closed recently, has been taken over by the education authority and its use as an overseas students' hostel refused? Is there any chance of one being used temporarily for this purpose?
§ Mr. Robinson
I can only tell the hon. Gentleman that the present use of this hospital is that determined by the hospital board, and, on the whole, I think it came to the right decision.