HC Deb 27 January 1998 vol 305 cc129-30
2. Mr. Bill O'Brien

If he will make a statement on new hospital provisions in the area of the Wakefield health authority, with particular reference to maternity services. [23414]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Paul Boateng)

I understand that Wakefield health authority is consulting local people about proposals to reshape acute and maternity services. As the issue may be referred to Ministers for decision, I am sure that my hon. Friend will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this stage.

Mr. O'Brien

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. As he knows, my constituents' major concern is the suggested closure of the maternity unit at Pinderfields hospital in my constituency. It is a first-class unit, highly efficient and most secure. It can offer a back-up service to any mother or child in danger or with problems. Does the Minister accept that there is much concern, especially in my constituency, but generally throughout the Wakefield area, about the threatened closure? Does he accept that there is a fair amount of unjust concern in respect of the health authority and major concern among my constituents? Will he visit the unit to see for himself its efficiency and the way in which it helps people? I have witnessed that, and I would like him to join me in experiencing it.

Mr. Boateng

Any invitation to visit my hon. Friend's constituency is almost irresistible. I will certainly look at my timetable to see how we can accommodate his helpful suggestion. He is a doughty fighter for the NHS in his constituency. He understands that, in considering anything that comes to us from the health authority, we will ensure that his constituency and its surrounding area enjoy a high-quality, up-to-date NHS providing in a modern and responsive setting the treatment to which his constituents are entitled. He has my warm assurance on that.