HC Deb 16 April 1985 vol 77 cc128-9
10. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will seek to pay an official visit to King's college hospital, London.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Fraser

Will the Minister direct his attention to the problems of the accident and emergency department at King's College hospital, which is the busiest in the south-east? Is he aware that the regional authority continues to deny funds to redevelop it and that when recently the department was able to save the life of PC George Hammond it had to shop around privately for body scanning facilities to save his life? Does the Minister not think that that is disgraceful? Will he reverse the spending trend?

Mr. Clarke

There is plainly always competition for funds between different units. There are body scanners in that part of London. There is one at St. Thomas's and one at Guy's. The Camberwell health authority chose to make arrangements with the Cromwell because, presumably, it is in its interests and those of NHS patients to have scanning done there. If an application for a scanner is made by the south-east Thames region, no doubt it will be considered in due course. The Camberwell health authority has also to concentrate upon improving other parts of its service. We must not allow highly publicised claims for items of equipment to divert the authority from its main priority.

Mr. Gerald Bowden

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say what support his Department gives to King's College in its specialties, in particular its treatment of liver diseases?

Mr. Clarke

King's is undoubtedly one of the major national centres for liver transplant operations, amongst other things. I am glad to say that the Government are making an additional grant of £132,000 from central funds this year for the work of the King's liver transplant unit.

Ms. Harman

The Minister mentioned the two National Health Service hospitals in the region that have CT body scanners. Is he aware that the reason why PC George Hammond had to be carted right across London to the private Cromwell hospital is that the waiting lists for scanners at the National Health Service hospitals are already full? As the King's district already lacks vital facilities, will he stop the further cuts that are being imposed on that district?

Mr. Clarke

I am glad to say that PC Hammond received most excellent care and treatment at King's College hospital, and I would not say anything against that. I believe that he was carted across to the Cromwell hospital in front of the nation's press cameras because someone wished to campaign for an item of equipment at King's College hospital. The Camberwell health authority is right to concentrate, as it is doing, upon developing services for the mentally handicapped and ill. That is the first priority in that district.