HC Deb 14 February 1966 vol 724 cc895-6
33. Mr. John Wells

asked the Minister of Health if he will take special measures to obtain a definition of the estimated population of the area served by the West Kent Hospital, in view of the fact that this area is short of beds of all types and in order to enable comparison with other areas.

Mr. Loughlin

The hospital service for the central Kent area is provided by a number of hospitals jointly and one particular hospital in the group cannot be said to serve a defined population.

Mr. Wells

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the hospitals at Tunbridge Wells, Ashford and Canterbury were rebuilt between the wars, that they have traditionally had space to spare and have provided beds for my constituents hitherto, but that with the growth of population in the South-East they now say that they are unwilling to provide beds for my constituents, whereas the West Kent General Hospital at Maid-stone has remained more or less static in its bedding? Will he take urgent steps to consider the problem and remedy it?

Mr. Loughlin

There has been a recent completion of facilities at the West Kent General Hospital. The original Answer pointed out that we cannot define populations in relation to one hospital. It so happens that if we took all the hospitals in this area we should find that the number of beds was in excess of that which is considered normal. We are not saying that full facilities are available, but we think that the regional hospital board has looked at the problem.

Mr. Deedes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a basic failure to forecast the needs of the very big increases in population which will come in this region? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to have another look at the potential needs in the South-East, in terms of the hospital building programme?

Mr. Loughlin

We are inquiring into the whole business of the projection of populations.