§ 24. Mr. Turton
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the present provision of geriatric beds in rural areas; and if he will make a statement.
§ Dr. John Dunwoody
It would not be practicable to make provision for the rural population exclusively in their own areas, but my right hon. Friend is sure that small hospitals in rural areas have a complementary rôle to the district general hospital and that a great deal more thought must be given to the best way of providing as near as possible to their homes for people who need long-term care.
§ Mr. Turton
In view of the hardship suffered by old people when transferred far from their homes, will the hon. Gentleman consider inviting hospital authorities to use Section 31 of the Health Services and Public Health Act and provide transport for visitors to these old patients?
§ Dr. Dunwoody
That is a slightly different question, although I am prepared to look into it. One should make the point that many old folk require highly specialised hospital treatment in active geriatric units, and it is not always possible to provide this near to patients' homes because a large number of patients is required to make a unit efficient and worth while.