HC Deb 08 August 1972 vol 842 cc1479-80
21. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many accident departments in England have been temporarily closed in the last two years due to staff shortage or other causes.

Mr. Alison

This information is not collected centrally and is therefore not available. To obtain it would require a special survey covering the whole of the National Health Service.

Mr. Adley

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is considerable anger and frustration in East Bristol about the recent closure of the casualty unit at Cossham? Following the points raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Surbiton (Mr. Nigel Fisher) and for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) and the answer which my hon. Friend gave, would it not be a good idea if he studied the national pattern? Is there not some evidence that, where regional hospital boards are unable to obtain the necessary satisfaction about the reasons for closing casualty units, they seem to be going out of their way to find reasons, thus depriving a large number of people of an adjacent casualty service?

Mr. Alison

My hon. Friend came to see me to talk about this matter. I hope that he thought that our talk was constructive. My hon. Friend will remember that Cossham got through no fewer than 10 casualty officers in the course of a few months. This was due to the very real problems of career prospects for younger doctors in casualty and emergency services.

Dr. Summerskill

I recognise the importance of career prospects, but does the Under-Secretary agree that it would be desirable to appoint part-time casualty officers if there are general practitioners willing to serve? Will he bear in mind that many married women doctors would welcome a suitable appointment in an accident department?

Mr. Alison

I take the hon. Lady's point about part-time doctors, particularly part-time women doctors. She will know that my Department gives every possible encouragement to general practitioners to attend, on sessional bases, for minor injuries work in local hospitals, thus allowing the concentration of skilled resources and manpower to be placed in the major general hospitals.