HC Deb 11 July 1972 vol 840 cc1391-2
19 and 51. Sir D. Walker-Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what was the bed-occupancy rate for the maternity unit at the Herts and Essex Hospital for the last five quarters, taken respectively as a percentage of maternity beds occupied out of the total of 36, and the corresponding percentage of 30 beds, being the residual complement after omitting six beds reserved for emergency use and separated from the main unit;

(2) what consideration was given to bed-occupancy at the existing maternity unit at the Herts and Essex Hospital in his decision to transfer in-patient maternity facilities from Bishop's Stortford; and if he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

Although six beds are on a different floor, they are available for use when required and are not reserved for emergency use. The relevant bed occupancy rates are therefore those for the 36 beds and I will with permission circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. These rates constituted one of the many factors I considered, before reaching my decision.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Is not the bed occupancy rate which was used and quoted at the time of the decision to close this maternity unit the lowest occupancy rate of the quarters preceding it and following it? As to the other factors, will my right hon. Friend agree that there has been an increase in deliveries and that there is a very keen and substantial local demand for these facilities in Bishops Stortford?

Sir K. Joseph

Occupancy rates were only one of the factors which I had to take into account. My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware that there is now strong medical opinion that there is need for a concentration of special services for maternal care and delivery. Owing to my right hon. and learned Friend's persistent support of this local service, there will continue to be antenatal and post-natal facilities in Bishops Stortford.

Following is the information:

Herts and Essex Hospital
Percentage of Obstetric Beds occupied for quarters ended:
March, 1971 69
June, 1971 70
September, 1971 64
December, 1971 58
March, 1972 64