HC Deb 11 July 1977 vol 935 cc11-3
7. Mr. Grist

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he next plans to meet the Chairman of the South Glamorgan Health Authority.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Barry Jones)

My right hon. and learned Friend hopes to meet the chairman with other area health authority chairmen on 22nd July. I myself met the chairman on 6th July.

Mr. Grist

When the Secretary of State meets the chairman, will he bear in mind the enormous public concern which has been aroused over the proposed closure of the Glan Ely and Rhydlafer hospitals, particularly in the light of the scandalous waiting lists for orthopaedic treatment and the growing demand for geriatric services in South Glamorgan?

Mr. Barry Jones

I visited the Glan Ely Hospital last week. I also visited Lansdowne and St. David's and talked in some detail with the chairman about the problems which ought to be looked at and solved. I would say to the House that we are, however, willing to extend by a further month—until 22nd August—the normal one-month period for direct appeals and representations to the Secretary of State. With regard to Rhydlafer, I discussed this issue with the chairman, but we have received no proposals as yet.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is deep concern in Wales about the reorganisation of the Health Service and the tendency to concentrate hospitals into larger units? There is also concern about the closure of Rhydlafer Hospital which goes beyond South Glamorgan into Mid-Glamorgan. There is also concern about the closure of the haematology department. Will my hon. Friend assure patients in the area that these services will be retained?

Mr. Barry Jones

There is no cause for alarm with regard to Rhydlafer. The study which the authority is making is without prejudice. With regard to the general principle of having large or small hospitals, I would say that beyond any shadow of doubt the Department knows how much loved the smaller hospitals in Wales are. At the same time, however, if 10 years ago a great hospital was planned, conceivably there would have to be consequential closures. However, there is full procedure of consultation and the Welsh Office will never override that.

8. Sir Raymond Gower

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has had any recent consultations with the Chairman and members of the South Glamorgan Health Authority regarding their proposals affecting various hospitals in their area.

Mr. Barry Jones

I discussed them with the chairman in the course of visits to Landsdowne, Glan Ely and St. David's Hospitals last week.

Sir R. Gower

While appreciating that the Chairman and members of the South Glamorgan Health Authority have a formidable and difficult task, may I point out that there is deep and wide concern about the number of proposals affecting so many of the hospitals, including the one in my constituency—the Prince of Wales—and Glan Ely? There is also uncertainty about the future of Barry, Sully and Lansdowne Hospitals. Does the Minister realise that it is vitally important that his Department should enter into close consultations with the authority to ensure that no hasty decision is taken? In the case of the Prince of Wales Hospital, will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that we should not like to see the purpose-built unit divided into two, as has been proposed?

Mr. Barry Jones

No decision will be lightly taken. I am fully conscious of the anxiety of the hon. Gentleman in regard to his constituency. We have examined the subject of cover for minor casualties, but at the same time we as a Department have no Draconian powers and we cannot insist on local GPs helping to give that cover.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Is the Minister aware of the grave concern in the medical profession and among leukaemia patients in Wales about the treatment of that illness and the policy followed by the Welsh Office, apparently without adequate consultation? Will he take this opportunity to say that he will be ready to hold the meeting which we have requested with him so that we may discuss this matter?

Mr. Barry Jones

If the hon. Gentleman wants a meeting, it will take place as soon as convenient to both of us and our colleagues.