§ 3. Mr. Adam Hunter
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received regarding the progress being made for the provision of a new District General Hospital in West Fife; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Robert Hughes)
Fife 488 Health Board's proposals for phase I of the West Fife District General Hospital were submitted to my right hon. Friend's Department on 29th October 1974 and are being considered. No representations on the matter have reached me since I took office, but I am well aware of my hon. Friend's concern to see progress made.
§ Mr. Hunter
Now that the proposals are in the hands of the relevant Departments, will my hon. Friend promise to take speedy action on these proposals and make the new hospital a reality in the reasonably near future?
§ Mr. Hughes
I am aware of the urgency behind my hon. Friend's remarks. There is a great deal of detailed planning and design work to be done. It would be unrealistic to expect to start phase I in less than three years. We shall certainly do nothing to hold matters up.
§ Mr. William Hamilton
Is my hon. Friend aware that some of us in the House have been campaigning for this hospital for 20 years? We seem to be no further forward now than we were at the beginning and, in the meantime, hospital services in the area have deteriorated. Will the Minister give a specific date when work can be started on this project, despite the undoubted financial difficulties which have been inherited by the present Government?
§ Mr. Hughes
I am afraid I cannot give a specific date. All I can say is that the importance of the project has been recognised by authorising a start to the scheme as soon as planning can be completed, subject only to financial consideration at the time.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that when this hospital is started it will not—like the Ninewells Hospital—take 10 years to build, cost four times the original estimate, and be so expensive to run that all the local services are drawn away into it to justify its monstrous creation?
§ Mr. Hughes
It is unfair to bring Ninewells Hospital into this question. The proposals for phase I involve 90 geriatric beds, 90 psycho-geriatric beds and 30 psychiatric beds. These services are urgently required in this area. The Department will see that as planning 489 proposals go forward and that there is proper estimating of cost.