§ 10. Mr. Gourlay
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many additional geriatric and psychogeriatric beds, respectively, are to be provided in the Kirkcaldy area; and when he expects them to be available for patients.
§ Mr. John MacKay
Sixty additional geriatric beds, 90 additional psychogeriatric beds together with 30 short-stay psychiatric beds and 80 day places are being provided in the new Whyteman's Brae development. Building work is expected to be completed in March and Fife health board intends to admit the first patients in June or July of this year.
§ Mr. Gourlay
The Minister's reply will help to alleviate the tragic conditions faced by many elderly 293 people on the waiting list. Nevertheless, the position of those who are still waiting to use the day facilities to which he referred will be seriously aggravated because of the Government's refusal to give the necessary finance for the eight additional ambulances required to convey those patients to and from hospital. What action does the Minister intend to take to remedy that position?
§ Mr. MacKay
Of course, new day hospitals place a heavy demand on patient transport. At present the ambulance service can fund two additional vehicles for Kirkcaldy. Further provision for taking the patients to the day centre is being examined.
§ Mr. Henderson
Is my hon. Friend aware that people in Fife much appreciate the extent to which the Government have made a positive contribution, both in works under way and authorised, to medical care? Does he recognise that geriatric and psychogeriatric care needs continuing attention in Fife, as in some other parts of the country—
§ Mr. MacKay
My hon. Friend is right in saying that, not just in Fife, but throughout Scotland, we must give a higher priority to the needs of the elderly, who are a growing section of our population. In 1981 the Fife health board made available 60 new geriatric beds. Over the next few years a further 360 beds for geriatric and psychogeriatric patients will be available in Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy. When those beds are available, Fife will have moved a considerable way towards meeting the desirable standards of provision for the elderly.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing
Contrary to what the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson) said, is the Minister aware that the Whyteman's Brae development is the Labour Government's proposal? Construction work began when the Labour Government were in office. Is the Minister further aware that his record in all areas of medicine, whether psychiatric, geriatric of paediatric care, is an absolute disgrace, because he has not yet announced the laying of a new brick in any new hospital building programme in Scotland? He is the last person who should come to the Dispatch Box and claimed credit for any improvement in the National Health Service. No one has done more to damage the NHS than the Minister.
§ Mr. MacKay
The hon. Gentleman ought to know that the planning of hospital development takes a long time. Advanced works are under way for the new West Lothian district general hospital at Livingston and there are contracts for the first phase of work at the Western general hospital. A number of relatively smaller projects keep going on. If we get to the hon. Gentleman's question on the Order Paper, I shall state what development there has been in Falkirk. [Interruption.] In response to the seated interventions, when hon. Members asked me about developments in Scotland, I explained the developments in Fife.