HC Deb 12 January 1988 vol 125 cc135-6
9. Mr. Loyden

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the future of St. Paul's eye hospital, Liverpool.

Mr. Newton

As part of its strategic objectives for improving the pattern of acute hospital services in Liverpool, the Liverpool health authority has drawn up plans to transfer to the Royal Liverpool hospital-Liverpool Royal infirmary site, ophthalmic services at present provided by St. Paul's eye hospital.

Mr. Loyden

The population of Merseyside and, indeed, of the north-west region will regard the Minister's remarks this afternoon as an absolute disgrace in terms of patient care. The hospital has a national reputation and has served the region for many years. The Minister's remarks are indicative of the way in which the Government are treating the National Health Service. They give assurances about the service being safe in their hands, but the reality is that people are dying, hospitals and beds are closing and people are waiting for years for treatment. That is how the Government treat the Health Service that was built up by the Labour Government.

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman's original question was about St. Paul's eye hospital. That is an old building, built in 1912, with no scope for further development. It is in rather poor condition, and the health authority proposes to re-provide all the beds in more modern facilities.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Representing, as I do, a constituency within Merseyside RHA, and bearing in mind the answer that my right hon. Friend gave to the original question, may I ask him whether it is correct that Liverpool has more hospital beds per head of the population than any other district in the Merseyside region?

Mr. Newton

That seems possible. In common with other regions, one of the difficulties that Merseyside faces is that of ensuring a proper distribution of its services. That is something that we have tried to help it with through the so-called bridging fund.

Mr. Skinner

If these buildings in Liverpool, such as St. Paul's eye hospital, have to be pulled down because they have been up for a long time, when will the Minister start on this place?