HC Deb 21 June 1977 vol 933 cc1073-4
3. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps are being taken to ensure that the Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield is brought into immediate use.

The Minister of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Mr. Roland Moyle)

As I explained in my reply to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Osborn) on 26th April, building work on the hospital is still in progress.

Mr. Hooley

Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be totally absurd for this superb modern hospital, which was built at a cost of about £20 million, to stand unused year after year because of lack of revenue to finance bringing it into use? Will he look very carefully at this situation with a view to providing the Trent Regional Health Authority with finance necessary to commission it?

Mr. Moyle

The contractors are handing over this building to the regional health authority floor by floor. Ten of the 18 floors have so far been handed over and the remaining floors are being fitted out. There is a subsequent Question on the Order Paper about the allocation of funds to the Trent Regional Health Authority, and I shall be dealing with that point when it arises.

Mr. Flannery

Will my hon. Friend accept from me that in Sheffield we have a great fear of this beautiful hospital standing there like Centre Point but, of course, not making any profit, at the same time as the sick and the medical profession are urgently in need of it? Will he also accept from me that we think that the existence of the old hospitals will more than likely cost just about as much money as it would cost to open this wonderful hospital? Therefore, accepting, as I do, what he has just said, may I ask him to rethink the whole problem?

Mr. Moyle

The out-patients department and the medical school are already in use, and, subject to resources being available, it is planned to bring the rest of the hospital into use progressively between April 1978 and February 1979. The AHA is giving urgent consideration to the point that my hon. Friend has raised. It is meeting its RHA to discuss its finance problem.

Miss Maynard

Does my hon. Friend agree that the real problem is not that the hospital is not completed, from the building point of view, but that the Government have not made available the necessary money to make sure that it can be opened on time? Would it not be more sensible to spend our money on hospitals and something useful for the people instead of cutting public expenditure and not making available the money when the hospital is actually almost ready for occupation?

Mr. Moyle

Resources allocated to the NHS are growing currently at the rate of 1½ per cent. to 2 per cent. a year. I appreciate my hon. Friend's point about spending money on hospitals. Indeed, I am always inclined to spend money on hospitals. I find it a good thing. Obviously, rationalisation of local resources will have to take place if the Hallamshire Hospital is to open.