HC Deb 29 March 1965 vol 709 cc1192-5
16. Sir Rolf Dudley Williams

asked the Minister of Health whether he will ensure that sufficient finance is made available to the South-West Regional Hospital Board having regard to the need to expand the hospital facilities in that area.

21. Sir G. Wills

asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that the amount of special extra capital allocated to the South Western Regional Hospital Board will ensure that the West Country gets a fair and adequate share of new hospitals and hospital improvements; and if he will make a statement.

24. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that the allocation of money to the South-West makes adequate provision in view of the wide spread of the population; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. K. Robinson

I am satisfied that within the resources available the South Western Region gets its fair share. The special needs of each region are taken into account in determining capital and revenue allocations. The special extra capital allocation to hospital boards for 1965–66 of £5 million has been distributed in a way that enables a start to be made by this and other boards on schemes ready and scheduled to start in that year.

Sir Rolf Dudley Williams

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. He will be aware that I am particularly interested in an out-patient department of the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital in Exeter. Can he give me an assurance that the start of this department will not be delayed?

Mr. Robinson

I understand that the South Western Regional Hospital Board hopes to start the new out-patient department at the Princess Elizabeth in November of this year.

Sir G. Wills

Will the Minister do his best to ensure that there is at least enough of the allocation available for improvements to the Bridgwater Hospital, which has been making a very valuable contribution for a long time, and is still doing so, to the area around it as well as to Bridgwater itself?

Mr. Robinson

I understand that, subject to the outcome of the review, it is unlikely that rebuilding of the Mary Stanley Maternity Home at Bridgwater will be possible for some years, but the board has in hand plans for interim improvements to the outpatient and other facilities at Bridgwater Hospital.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Can the Minister say whether phase 3 of the new hospital being built at Truro will be started within the coming financial year with the new funds he is to allocate to the South Western Region?

Mr. Robinson

I cannot answer the hon. Gentleman without notice on that point.

Mr. Lipton

Has my right hon. Friend taken note of the sudden and passionate yearning displayed by hon. Members opposite for improved hospital services, about which they were pretty dumb until last October?

Mr. Robinson

I welcome their enthusiasm. I am only sorry that it was not greater when they were in office.

Mr. Peter Mills

Will the Minister bear in mind how important it is to keep the small cottage hospitals going until the bigger hospitals are built? Will he ensure that they have the necessary supplies and finance to carry on?

Mr. Robinson

This is always taken into account when any proposal to close a cottage hospital or small hospital comes before me.

23. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to reduce the waiting list of surgical patients in the South-west in view of the long time many patients have to wait.

Mr. Loughlin

This problem was brought to the attention of my right hon. Friend during his recent visit to the South Western Region. Both the Regional Hospital Board and the Board of Governors of the United Bristol Hospitals are planning further major schemes which should relieve pressure.

Mr. Mills

Will the Parliamentary Secretary bear in mind the very real need for a new hospital in North Devon, and that we are not overstating our case? The staff are frustrated and there is a long waiting list of patients for surgical treatment. Can the hon. Gentleman now tell us whether the South Western Board is able to revise its building programme?

Mr. Loughlin

The South Western Board is considering the building programme. So far as North Devon is concerned, the board has plans for releasing certain space in the North Devon Infirmary for a few additional beds and another operating theatre. This should improve the situation. We appreciate the problem. My right hon. Friend realises it in consequence of his visit, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are now giving it every consideration.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Can the hon. Gentleman say what plans the hospital board has for the other parts of Devon and Cornwall and the rest of the region, and can he say how much of the £5 million extra will be spent there?

Mr. Loughlin

Not without notice.

Mr. Spriggs

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that, generally speaking, those who can afford it can jump the queue and obtain a surgical operation at short notice?

Mr. Loughlin

That is a slightly different matter from the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Spriggs

It is still important.