HC Deb 29 March 1976 vol 908 cc875-7
8. Mr. Wyn Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is his estimate of the effect of the White Paper on Public Expenditure on the hospital building programme in Wales between the present time and 1979–80.

Mr. Barry Jones

As the White Paper shows, there will be a reduction in capital expenditure on new buildings over the next few years. Schemes in progress will proceed as planned. In addition, funds will be made available for a modest programme of schemes of high priority.

Mr. Roberts

As the White Paper makes it clear that one of the major ways of sustaining current expenditure is cutting capital expenditure and slowing down hospital building, can the Minister give a firm assurance that there will be no closure of the older, smaller type of hospital before alternative new facilities are available?

Mr. Barry Jones

If a large new district general hospital is opened in, say, Bangor, I cannot see that one can rule out the possibility of closing a smaller hospital. The hon. Gentleman should know that area health authorities have the responsibility of submitting consultation documents to the communities they serve. Nothing can be done without adequate and prolonged consultation with local communities. The hon. Gentleman should know also that he is to have in his constituency a £12 million new district general hospital at Bangor and the first stages will be opened by my right hon. and learned Friend this very weekend. That means that the hon. Gentleman is having the lion's share of available resources for capital expenditure in Wales.

Mr. Tom Ellis

Is my hon. Friend aware that the area served by the Wrexham Hospitals Group has the longest waiting list for admissions in the whole of Wales and that the area health authority has prepared an admirable development scheme based on the type of cottage hospital of which the hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts) spoke?

Mr. Barry Jones

My hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis) is never shy about coming forward and telling me of the needs of his constituency. I have heard from the area health authority about its proposed plans, but it will be for the authority formally to put them to me in the future. I can assure my hon. Friend that those plans will be given very serious consideration.

Mr. Hooson

Is not one of the troubles the fact that for years we put local health centres separate and apart from local hospitals? This trend is now in the process of being reversed. Where the local health centre is where the local cottage hospital is, they can work so much better together and the costs are to a large extent shared.

Mr. Barry Jones

I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that the Welsh Office has taken fully into account the special needs of Powys, where the health centres and the community hospitals rate very highly. The Department has a policy on community hospitals. The chairman of the area health authority at Powys has recently told me of the plans that he has.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

In his Consultative Document on the Health and Personal Social Services in Wales, the Secretary of State stated that priority also had to be given to services for the mentally ill. What proposals does the Department have to transfer resources currently being spent within the hospital sector to the community provision of the local authorities for the mentally ill?

Mr. Barry Jones

I confirm that the priority for the mentally handicapped is very high. Immediately on coming into office, my right hon. and learned Friend decided that this sector, which had been much neglected in the past, must have the facilities and the moneys it deserved. The hon. Gentleman might like to write to me about the details of his question.

Mr. Grist

Why is the Minister's Department unable to differentiate in figures for discharges from mental hospitals between those who are discharged alive and those who are discharged dead, as was revealed in an answer to a Question tabled by me some weeks ago?

Mr. Barry Jones

I should like notice of that question.