HC Deb 04 April 1973 vol 854 cc414-5
1. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the need for the provision of more geriatric beds in Fife, and public anxiety on the matter, he will take immediate steps to alleviate the problem.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education, Scottish Office (Mr. Hector Monro)

A programme of building schemes which will meet the need for more geriatric beds in Fife already exists and planning is in hand. A scheme providing 34 psychogeriatric beds is nearing completion and work on two small projects, providing 49 additional geriatric beds, should start this year; construction of the major schemes will start as soon as planning can be completed.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the hon. Gentleman aware —and is the South East Regional Board Hospital Board aware —of the increased and increasing anxiety in Fife about the inadequacy of provision of geriatric beds in the Fife area? Will he ask the regional board to speed up its programme in Glenrothes? What is the estimated cost of the unit at Glenrothes, and is that unit on schedule? Will the Minister get going with the regional board and tell it to get on with the job?

Mr. Monro

I was glad to have a chance to talk with the hon. Gentleman yesterday about the schemes in Fife and I look forward to seeing my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) and other hon. Gentleman next week to discuss the matter further. The programme of geriatric provision in Fife is substantial and when completed should be adequate for all needs in the area. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that I should like to see everything going ahead as fast as possible, and this is part of what we shall discuss next week. The total scheme at Glenrothes, excluding the health clinic, will cost about £500,000.

Sir J. Gilmour

When calculations are made of the number of beds required, will my hon. Friend take into account the overspill arrangement between Glasgow and Glenrothes?

Mr. Monro

I would have to check that, but I am under the impression that that is the case.

Mr. McElhone

I would not wish to detract from the problems in Fife, but may I ask whether the hon. Gentleman agrees that the humane answer to this serious and growing problem is not to keep on building geriatric units as we are doing all over Scotland but to expand the home help service and the home nursing service and to ensure that the social services work and keep many of these elderly people at home?

Mr. Monro

I agree. That is why the Government are spending so much money on all the matters about which the hon. Gentleman speaks, including sheltered housing and so on. I agree with the objective behind the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, but I must emphasise that we are getting on with the job.

Mr. Hamilton

In view of the urgency of this problem, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.

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