HC Deb 01 March 1990 vol 168 cc379-80
12. Mr. Ashdown

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if any Ministers have visited Coleraine hospital; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Needham

My noble Friend Lord Skelmersdale visited the hospital on 18 September last.

Mr. Ashdown

Is not it a fact that when visiting the hospital, Lord Skelmersdale described the situation as "a shambles"? If it is a shambles, does the Minister accept the necessity to produce the new options appraisal as quickly as possible? Will he, in particular, give an undertaking that that new options appraisal will be produced before the end of the current term of the health board, so that the delays that would result from installing a new health board will not arise?

Mr. Needham

I agree that my noble Friend used a phrase that sums up the present state of the Liberal Democratic party. At Coleraine hospital, the proposal of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy was not accepted by the board. The board must get a value for money appraisal—the right hon. Gentleman is well aware of that—and that will be done as quickly as possible.

Mr. Bowis

When the Minister is visiting that and other hospitals, will he note the number of patients suffering from lung cancer and analyse the number of those whose lung cancer was caused by childhood smoking? Will he redouble the Government's efforts in Northern Ireland to stop the availability of cigarettes to under-age children?

Mr. Needham

Yes, and I shall pass on my hon. Friend's message to my noble Friend.

Mr. William Ross

Will the Minister confirm that it is still the Government's intention to provide quickly an acute hospital in Coleraine with the full range of services? Is he aware that that is a key part of the whole structure of acute hospitals in Northern Ireland and that a replacement for the present hospital is long overdue?

Mr. Needham

Yes, it is the Government's intention to produce new acute care facilities across the whole range in Coleraine as soon as practicable.

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