HC Deb 09 June 1981 vol 6 c250
2. Mr. Conlan

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to make an announcement on the future size of district general hospitals.

Dr. Vaughan

We are still considering the comments received on the consultative document issued last year. My right hon. Friend or I will announce our conclusions as soon as possible.

Mr. Conlan

Does the Minister recall that he told me in January that he might be expected to make a statement by the end of March? Is he aware that the continuing delay is affecting the morale of hospital staff generally, particularly at the excellent acute psychiatric hospital of St. Mary's at Stannington? Will he take all possible steps to telescope further discussion and consultation so that a decision and an announcement can be made soon?

Dr. Vaughan

Yes, I am well aware that I wrote to the hon. Member saying that we hoped to reach conclusions in about two months. There have been more comments on the consultative document than we had expected —over 400. We are examining them as quickly as possible and we hope to be able to make an announcement within a short time. Meanwhile, I am aware of the anxieties of St. Mary's hospital, Stannington. If there are any steps that we can take to reassure the staff there I should like to discuss them with the hon. Member.

Mr. Dover

Will my hon. Friend try to incorporate in any announcement a statement on the casualty services that should be provided in district general hospitals, including details of the opening times?

Dr. Vaughan

Yes, that is one of the aspects that we are particularly considering. In many parts of the country it is on this aspect that the main anxieties of the local communities lie —the fear that they will not have adequate accident and emergency services near people's places of work. We are bearing that in mind.

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