HC Deb 16 July 1979 vol 970 cc1004-5
7. Sir Raymond Gower

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will seek to ensure the maximum use by the National Health Service of existing hospital buildings and facilities in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

National Health Service hospital buildings and other facilities in Wales are managed by the area health authorities. It is their responsibility to ensure that the best use is made of the assets available to them.

Sir R. Gower

In view of the expensive nature of new hospital building, is it not rather strange that at the present time there are rumours of plans which may involve the closure of the Prince of Wales hospital near Cardiff. that the splendid hospital building at Sully in my constituency is not being properly used and that the purpose-built Glossop maternity hospital in Cardiff has not been used for several years? Is not this an absurdity at a time when the building of new hospitals is beyond the financial resources of most health authorities?

Mr. Wyn Roberts

I agree completely with my hon. Friend that the best possible use should be made of the many excellent local hospitals that already exist, but the relative advantages of continuing to use old premises or providing new buildings will have to be weighed in each case. This is the job of the area health authorities, but I think that there should be acceptance of the need to close some old hospitals even though they may be dear to local communities. New hospitals, which are being built at great cost, are specifically designed to replace the old.

Mr. Alec Jones

The hon. Gentleman says that the best possible use should be made of these hospitals, such as the Prince of Wales hospital. Will he explain how it is possible for AHAs to make the best use of them? When they are now facing wage increases and a near doubling of VAT by the present Government, how can they possibly do it? Surely these rising costs are more likely to effect a reduction in the use of facilities and a reduction in health standards of patients.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that we have not cut the NHS budget in Wales. My right hon. Friend has allocated all the resources that had been set aside by the previous Government.

Mr. Geraint Howells

Will the Under-Secretary give an assurance to the Welsh people that none of the small cottage hospitals and our small hospitals will be closed during the next five years?

Mr. Wyn Roberts

I have already said—I repeat it—that hon. Members must not forget that new hospitals are being built, and we have a substantial programme of new hospital buildings. Those new hospitals are intended to replace—and must, indeed, replace—the old hospitals in many cases.