HC Deb 27 February 1992 vol 204 c1098
1. Mr. Trimble

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what guidance the management executive of the Department of Health and Social Services has recently given to the Southern health and social services board concerning the future of Banbridge hospital.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Jeremy Hanley)

None, Sir. The hon. Gentleman might be referring to the fact that on receipt of the Southern board's investment appraisal for the refurbishment of Banbridge hospital it became clear that there were a number of deficiencies in the document, as certain issues had not been properly addressed. The board has simply been asked to provide that information before I can make a decision.

Mr. Trimble

The Minister knows of the concern about the future of Banbridge hospital and knows that, for many years, the Southern board promised its refurbishment. That project was finally put into the proposals for this financial year, only to be clobbered by the moratorium on capital expenditure. As the Minister said, his Department wrote to the board in January to tell it that it should reconsider "the issue of Banbridge". It also supplied to the board a momorandum which has not been made available to other people. Is not the implication obvious? The hon. Gentleman is asking the board either to run down or to close the hospital. Is not that a consequence of the need to provide up to £15 million to cure the concrete cancer problem at Craigavon? What other hospitals will be affected? Why cannot that exceptional expense be met with exceptional funding?

Mr. Hanley

I am doing no such thing. The hon. Gentleman will know that any project in excess of £1 million must come to me for a decision. An investment appraisal comes with the project. The investment appraisal published by the Southern board was deficient in many respects. The board has a commitment to Banbridge hospital and to continuing health care and social services in its area. I merely want the information upon which I can decide whether refurbishment can go ahead. Therefore, there is no lack of commitment by the board or by me.

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