HC Deb 13 June 1972 vol 838 cc1239-40
7. Mr. Moate

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the rôle and scope of community hospitals as a part of the future hospital service; and if he will announce plans for the development of this concept.

Sir K. Joseph

I am consulting the representative bodies of the medical and nursing professions and of the hospital service about the concept of community hospitals. I will make a statement on the role and scope of these hospitals when the consultations are complete.

Mr. Moate

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his own words of encouragement in recent months in favour of community hospitals have been warmly welcomed by many people who have thought it right to support their own local or cottage hospital? It is appreciated that there are areas of doubt, such as children's wards and casualty facilities, and would he not agree that guidelines might be helpful to regional hospital boards?

Sir K. Joseph

Certain guidelines will be necessary and I shall be issuing them. I am grateful for my hon. Friend's kind comments. I hope that the qualifications in my various speeches have been noted. There cannot be a charter for the sur- vival of all cottage hospitals. We cannot afford to provide an intensive service in new district general hospitals and to keep all cottage hospitals, but the community hospital is a new concept to complement district general hospitals and will enable a new function to be found for some of the local hospitals—but only some.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Will the right hon. Gentleman implement the report on rehabilitation published by his Department today which implies the establishment of a comprehensive scheme of rehabilitation within the community for the mentally handicapped, physically handicapped and other handicapped people? Would not this go a long way towards helping community care?

Sir K. Joseph

It is a different, overlapping and very important question. Rehabilitation presents us with some very difficult and urgent problems.