§ 2. Mr. Frank Cook
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received from Down community health committee on matters relating to health care in Down district.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Michael Ancram)
My noble Friend Lord Arran intends to carry out a visit to health and social care facilities in the Down district including the Downe hospital, in the very near future. In November last year, in response to Eastern health and social services board's acute framework document, the Down community health committee forwarded to the Department of Health and Social Services a document entitled "Save our Hospitals". In July of this year, the committee forwarded a further document called "Our Future Hospitals".
§ Mr. Olner
The Minister is obviously aware of the profound concern that has been expressed in the Down area of Northern Ireland over the threat to the area's maternity and acute services. Why does the health authority insist on threatening the future of the two hospitals which provide excellent care for the local community? Is the health authority being driven by the needs of centralised finance, and not looking at the benefits provided in the community?
§ Mr. Ancram
The hon. Member will be aware that the Eastern board is currently finalising its strategy document and it would be wrong at this stage to speculate on what might be in that document. When the document has been completed, it will be forwarded to my noble Friend Lord Arran, who will give it careful consideration. That consideration will be given in the light of representations that are made to him, and also those that I will pass on to him that have been made in the House today.