HC Deb 25 July 1966 vol 732 cc1210-2
50 and 51. Sir W. Teeling

asked the Minister of Health (1) why, when economic cost effectiveness is a guiding principle in the expenditure of public money, he is supporting a scheme to cost something over £20 million and ignoring one backed by the Brighton Health Committee and the Brighton and Hove and mid-Sussex medical profession which will cost less than £6 million; (2) why, in the difficult situation with regard to the medical staffiing in hospitals and the problems of access to hospitals of general practitioners, he has rejected a scheme which provides for total integration of medical services and personnel in the Brighton area, without discussion with the people who represent the mass of professional opinion in Brighton and in spite of requests from the two hon. Members for Brighton and the hon. Member for Hove that he should receive them.

Mr. Kenneth Robinson

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemp-town (Mr. Hobden) on 16th May. The hon. Member appears to be comparing the costs of two quite different projects, namely the developing of two district general hospitals and building a specialised unit only. The regional hospital board, which is the responsible planning authority, discussed the merits of the two proposals with local representatives on 14th April.

Sir W. Teeling

Is the right hon. Gentleman apparently paying no attention to efficiency? Is there any real reason why there should be this vast waste of public money on what in effect is feather-bedding of gross inefficiency? Considering that so many people have wanted to come to him from Brighton —professionals, Lord Cohen of Brighton, his own Socialist friend, and the borough health committee—surely they should be listened to as well as these few people from the Ministry?

Mr. Robinson

I do not accept for a moment that there is any waste of public money. I have told the hon. Member that he is not comparing like with like. The important thing in Brighton is to improve hospital facilities quickly. The Royal Sussex County scheme, Phase 1, is likely to start next month. I have seen the hon. Member and explained why it would not be useful to receive a deputation.

Mr. Braine

While accepting that it is the Minister's responsibility to make decisions even though they are unpopular, may I ask whether he would agree that in highly personalised circumstances such as these there is wisdom as well as courtesy in receiving a responsible deputation?

Mr. Robinson

I frequently receive deputations from local authorities and interested parties in particular areas. There were special considerations here and I have explained them to the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Sir W. Teeling).