HC Deb 09 March 1970 vol 797 cc901-2
21. Mr. Hordern

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will refuse to sanction the closure of the Petworth Cottage Hospital.

Mr. Crossman

The South West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board has consulted local interests about the future of this hospital and it has not yet made any recommendation to me.

Mr. Hordern

Is the Minister aware that if the hospital is closed before 1973 there will be a serious shortage of accommodation for the elderly in Petworth? In view of the recent report of the West Sussex County Council on the problems of the elderly in West Sussex, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the matter very carefully when he gives his decision?

Mr. Crossman

Yes, I shall consider it seriously. I shall try to consider it before the formal consultations take place. This is the kind of issue which I have tried to impress on regional hospital boards as being relevant to their consideration of the question of closure.

Mr. Pavitt

Does my right hon. Friend recall that the central point of the hos- pital building programme was the saving of money on cottage hospitals in order to extend district hospitals? As this policy has failed in the last few years, will he review the whole matter of hospital building approvals?

Mr. Crossman

This is a wider question than that of Petworth Hospital. Nevertheless it arises on this issue. I would not say that the policy has entirely failed. I would say that this is to over simplify the situation, to say that eight or 10 local hospitals can be closed down automatically to save money. It has been found that the value of some local community hospitals has been so high that mass closure has not been a satisfactory solution, and, therefore, all the economies expected from building large district hospitals have not been automatically obtained.