HC Deb 09 June 1981 vol 6 cc249-50
1. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the present shortfall of geriatric beds in each of the Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley area health authority districts.

The Minister for Health (Dr. Gerard Vaughan)

The average daily number of geriatric beds available in Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham in the year ended 31 December 1979 was 245, 293 and 280 respectively, compared with an estimated requirement of 308, 362 and 315. I share the hon. Member's concern that there is a shortfall of 63 beds in Barnsley, 69 in Doncaster and 35 in Rotherham.

Mr. Wainwright

Does the Minister realise that the Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley area health authorities, pressurised by the consultants, are bringing forward schemes to ensure that the Montagu hospital, regardless of the effect on the patients in the area covered by that hospital, becomes a geriatric hospital? Will the Minister look into the matter, because of the grave effect that it will have on the people in the large area that is covered by the Montagu hospital who will suffer tremendously if the scheme that has been promoted by the consultants through the area health authorities is to be allowed?

Dr. Vaughan

I understand and share the hon. Member's concern about this matter. It has now been decided to keep the Montagu hospital as an acute general hospital. The hon. Gentleman's real concern was about the Fullerton hospital and the change to a geriatric function there. I shall certainly look into the matter. I am concerned that the facilities in that part of the country should be improved.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Does the Minister agree that my hon. Friend's real and genuine concern would be relieved somewhat if better financial provision were made for geriatric rehabilitation, better community services and the full implementation of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act in this respect?

Dr. Vaughan

One of our priorities has been to shift resources more towards geriatric care. A result has been the White Paper "Growing Older", and recently the "Care in Action" handbook. There has been a general improvement throughout the country in geriatric services care. Some of the figures given to us suggest that the number of acute beds for geriatrics is adequate. We are short in the part-way arrangements between acute hospital and fully at home services; that is why we are so keen on nursing homes provision in the National Health Service.