HC Deb 18 January 1978 vol 942 cc443-5
14. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland in what way it is intended to replace emergency medical services hospitals still operating in Scotland.

Mr. Harry Ewing

The current National Health Service major capital building programme for Scotland provides for the eventual replacement of six of the seven hospitals which were originally built as wartime emergency medical services hospitals and are still in use.

Mr. Galbraith

Will the Minister say a word about the priority with which these hospitals will be built? Will he say whether the replacements will be large hospitals or in the nature of cottage hospitals? Has he any idea of the upper limit? Can he say which is the most expensive?

Mr. Ewing

It would take too long to go into the detail of the six hospitals. I will write to the hon. Gentleman about them if he would like me to do so. A general point that I can make is that Raigmore is in band A; Peel, Bangour General and Bridge of Earn are in band B; and Ballochmyle, which the hon. Gentleman may know very well, is in band C of the major building programme which was announced on 2nd May. The plans are being prepared at present.

Mr. David Steel

Since one of those six hospitals serves my constituency, may I ask whether the Minister is in a position to tell the House whether he has yet received the representations from the Border Area Health Board and the Border Regional Council? Is he aware that both bodies make it clear that public opinion has been demonstrated to be clearly on the side of the new hospital, that the limited objections which have been received have in part been met and that the rest must be balanced against the weight of public opinion, which is in favour of pressing ahead quickly with the new building?

Mr. Ewing

My Department is very much aware of the need to have the district general hospital built on the location that has been selected. The right hon. Gentleman has been very active in this matter. It is true to say that the Border General District Hospital will replace Peel, which was one of the wartime emergency hospitals. The plans are now well advanced.

Dr. M. S. Miller

While many of these old hospitals did excellent work, may I ask my hon. Friend to keep in mind the fact that the rebuilding of hospitals must be rationalised in respect of catchment areas, so that the most up-to-date equipment can be supplied?

Mr. Ewing

That is one of the prime factors which we have in mind. Another is the fact that we are trying to shift the emphasis in the Health Service from the acute side of medicine—without running that down—to the long stay side. All these factors have been considered in this programme.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Since the cost of running a new hospital inevitably seems to be greater than the cost of running an old hospital, may I ask my hon. Friend to give an assurance that, as well as providing the capital cost of the hospitals, the Government will ensure that the relevant area health board is provided with the running costs?

Mr. Ewing

The problem is not to do with running costs, which are met from revenue, but rather with the commissioning costs of a new hospital. We have had one or two instances where the commissioning costs have not been able to be met by the various area health boards. This is one of the matters we have under consideration.