HC Deb 22 March 1995 vol 257 cc345-6
13. Mr. McAvoy

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the capital costs of building an NHS maternity hospital capable of coping with 3,000 births per annum. [13638]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

There are no current plans for a new maternity hospital of a 3,000 births per annum capacity in Scotland that would provide the basis of a meaningful costing.

Mr. McAvoy

The Minister will be aware that Glasgow health board is trying to close the most modern maternity facility in its area, at Rutherglen. That is despite the example set in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Ms Squire), where a similar closure led to the loss of lives. Bearing in mind the capital costs of replacing throughout Scotland stand-alone hospitals not located on the same site as acute services, will the Minister tell Glasgow health board to leave Rutherglen maternity hospital alone?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

We have no proposal before us, so we cannot make an exact estimate of the costs of another hospital providing maternity services—but we envisage that they will be in the range of £7 million to £12 million. The board will make its final recommendations once it has considered the outcome of the consultation that ends on 30 April. The board recognises the importance of organising maternity care with close access to the full range of support acute facilities. Any suggestion of closure would have to be put before the Secretary of State. In making a final decision, Ministers would have to be satisfied that a better service was being put in place.

Ms Rachel Squire

Does the Minister agree that his Government's policies on maternity services are leading to the removal of good, locally based services from hospitals? Does he further agree that the centralisation of maternity services, as has already happened in Fife with the closure of Dunfermline's maternity hospital, can lead to increased risk to mothers and babies? That was tragically demonstrated in my constituency 10 days ago when an unborn baby died as he and his mother were being transported from Dunfermline to Kirkcaldy. Will the Minister listen to what the communities have to say and keep Rutherglen open and restore maternity services to Dunfermline?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I must repeat to the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Ms Squire)—she raised many of these subjects in an earlier Adjournment debate—that the medical profession considered it extremely important to have close access to the full range of acute facilities. In making certain that the high standards are maintained, it is, of course, very necessary to ensure that mothers have access to all the necessary services. I should like to examine the circumstances of the very distressing case that the hon. Lady mentioned, and I shall bear her comments in mind.