§ 12. Mr. Fatchett
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many hospital and ward closures he expects in the Yorkshire region over the next three years.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
The development of the National Health Service has always involved the closure of old, surplus or unsuitable hospitals and wards from time to time, but I would not normally expect to be directly involved in these issues unless a community health council objected to a district health authority's proposals. I have no such objections from Yorkshire before me at present.
§ Mr. Fatchett
Is the Minister aware that there is widespread anxiety in Yorkshire because in all the regions covered by the Yorkshire regional health authority there are rumours of closures? Will he say whether the statement made the Chancellor on 7 July will lead to further cuts, the closure of wards and hospitals and the loss of jobs in the NHS in the Yorkshire region?
§ Mr. Clarke
Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales is today opening the new district general hospital in Grimbsy. The opening of that new hospital will lead to the closure of the old general hospital and the Croft Baker maternity home. I can therefore confirm that the rumours 1040 about the closure of those hospitals are well-founded, but I cannot accept that as evidence of a cut in the NHS. If we are to develop the service, we must close old, surplus and redundant hospitals and alter the pattern of service to face patient needs. That process must go on.
§ Mr. Madden
Will the Minister make it clear that if the Yorkshire health authority this week postpones a decision about the future of the Thornton View hospital in Bradford, it will incur no criticism from him?
§ Mr. Clarke
I understand that it is at present consulting on the future of both those hospitals and I am waiting for the health authority's decisions in the light of that consultation. That is the right way of proceeding in these matters. If a health authority thinks that it can provide services better by making a closure, it must check the views of the local people, and if there is disagreement between the health authority and the community health council, it will eventually come to Ministers for approval.