§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Rod Richards)
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 16 January 1995, Official Report, column 303. Any substantial change in the use of a hospital requires extensive public consultation before it can be put into effect. If the proposals for change do not secure the agreement of local community health councils, they must be referred to my right hon. Friend for decision.
§ Mr. Dafis
I hope that the Minister is aware that Bronglais hospital in Aberystwyth is the smallest district general hospital in England or Wales—or, indeed, in most of the United Kingdom—and that its resulting higher unit costs are liable to put it at something of a competitive disadvantage. Is he further aware of the chronic underfunding of capital works in the Ceredigion and Mid-Wales NHS trust, and that this, in addition to the other factor, could lead to a gradual spiral of decline in the scope and quality of the provision of services in the hospital and the trust? Will he undertake to have a careful look at the funding situation and ensure, following careful study, that no such decline occurs—bearing in mind the key strategic importance of Aberystwyth as a centre on the west coast of Wales?
§ Mr. Richards
As I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware, I visited the Bronglais hospital in Aberystwyth—it was my first visit on being appointed a Minister at the Welsh Office. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we look carefully at the provision of services and the purchasing of those services by health authorities. We shall obviously keep an eye on the way in which Dyfed health authority purchases services for the hon. Gentleman's constituents.
§ Mrs. Clwyd
May I ask the Minister to examine the provision of services in Aberdare general hospital? Although there has been general consultation in the Cynon valley, there is grave dissatisfaction with the failure of the health authority to give dates for the reopening of wards. In addition, the authority has failed to give assurances that day surgery will be carried out under general anaesthetic at the hospital, as it was in the past. What was once a thriving general hospital is now gradually running down. That has happened while the Minister has had responsibility for health in Wales. I ask him to examine these issues as a matter of urgency.
§ Mr. Richards
The provision of health care and services in Wales is better than it has ever been. I am sure that the hon. Lady has the wherewithal to take up individual cases with the appropriate health authority.