HC Deb 13 July 1971 vol 821 cc204-5
27. Mr. David Watkins

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is aware that the accident department at Shotley Bridge General Hospital, Consett, has had to be partially closed because of shortage of medical staff, thereby depriving the area of a vital service during certain periods ; and what measures he proposes to restore a full accident service.

Mr. Alison

I am aware of the partial closure. The management committee is seeking to recruit more staff, but the difficulty of staffing accident and emergency departments is a general problem which my Department is currently discussing with the medical profession.

Mr. Watkins

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. I can confirm the local efforts to which he has referred. Is he aware that it is an area of round-the-clock working in heavy industry, such as steel-making and coal-mining, where accidents are only too tragically likely to occur? Does he therefore realise the seriousness of that deprivation, and will he take urgent measures to seek to remedy it?

Mr. Alison

The hospital management committee expects to appoint a locum senior house officer, which should improve the service, as from 1st August.