HC Deb 05 March 1997 vol 291 c891
6. Mrs. Ewing

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representation he has received in respect of the document "The Scottish Health Service: Ready for the Future", with particular reference to the establishment of hospices as resource centres. [17318]

Lord James Douglas—Hamilton

Our White Paper on the future of the Scottish health service has been generally well received. To date, there have been six representations about the initiative on hospices as resource centres. I have also met, at Dr. Gray's hospital, the local group campaigning for hospice provision and I am, and remain, sympathetic to its aims.

Mrs. Ewing

I thank the Minister for his extensive letter on the issue dated 3 March, which I received yesterday. Given his public support and the keen interest that has been expressed in Moray for the establishment of a day hospice, and remembering that the people with friends and family who are terminally ill have to travel to Inverness or Milltimber in Aberdeen, does he agree that—despite the fact that the pilot initiatives mentioned in the White Paper are building on existing hospices—there is a strong case for a hospice in Moray as a resource centre? It would cost only approximately £300,000 per annum and, given the groundswell of support, the generous inhabitants of Moray would contribute substantially to the cost.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I am sympathetic to what the hon. Lady says. The initiative in the White Paper is aimed at existing adult voluntary hospices; it is meant to help them spread their expertise. I hope that the hospice campaign and the health board will be able to reach agreement about future services. They both recognise the fact that specialist palliative care for the people of Moray must be improved. We accept that the very best palliative care must be available for those suffering from cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Mr. Michael J. Martin

May I point out to the Minister the fact that the Marie Curie organisation runs the Huntershill hospital in Springburn, and works closely with the national health service? It also operates a house visiting service. Will the Minister give every support to that organisation, which does an excellent job throughout Scotland?

Lord James Douglas—Hamilton

I have the utmost admiration for the Marie Curie organisation and everything that it does in that sphere. We work alongside it and give it whatever moral support we can. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that we need to give more practical support, I would be grateful if he would let me know what possibilities he has in mind. We shall respond as positively as we can.

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