HC Deb 12 November 1985 vol 86 c421
11. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on Government policy towards local community hospitals.

Mr. Whitney

Community hospitals make an important contribution to the National Health Service. Their place in the pattern of district services is primarily a matter for health authorities to decide, in consultation with others concerned at local level, including the public and medical practitioners.

Mr. Jessel

Will my hon. Friend look sympathetically at the need to retain St. Mary's hospital, Hampton?

Mr. Whitney

I recognise my hon. Friend's concern. I understand that the plans of the district health authority point to the possible closure of St. Mary's at some time in the next 10 years. I can assure my hon. Friend that, before any final decision is made, full cognisance will be taken of local opinion.

Mr. Steel

Will the Minister accept the need for a little more enthusiasm towards local community hospitals? Do they not provide excellent value for money and should he not be so financing the health boards that they are able to keep these hospitals open?

Mr. Whitney

We certainly accept the contribution that community hospitals make, but decisions of the effective deployment of local health services, including community hospitals, must be a matter in the first instance for the local health authority.

Dr. M. S. Miller

Before the hon. Gentleman makes rash promises about local community hospitals, will he ensure that all hospitals are fully equipped to deal with situations that need to be dealth with?

Mr. Whitney

The 20 per cent. increase in real terms in resources allocated to the National Health Service since we came to power means a steady improvement in the quality of service and equipment in our HNS hospitals.