HC Deb 22 July 1998 vol 316 cc1109-10
9. Mr. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire)

What account he will take of public opinion in formulating his proposals on the future of the Powys Health Care NHS trust and Ceredigion and Mid Wales NHS trust. [50272]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Win Griffiths)

Consultation is currently taking place on a proposal to merge the Powys Health Care and Ceredigion and Mid Wales NHS trusts. Consultation ends on 21 September and it is only after that time that my right hon. Friend and I will make a decision on the proposal, taking into account representations received.

Mr. Öpik

Will the Minister confirm my understanding of his earlier remark that he does not foresee the closure of any Powys hospital if an overwhelming majority of local people oppose that move? Will he confirm also that this is a genuine consultation process and that, if the overwhelming majority of people in Powys oppose the merger, he will respect their democratic will?

Mr. Griffiths

May I put the hon. Gentleman right on the issue of community hospitals? What I said very clearly is that no community hospital is threatened by the NHS trust reconfiguration proposal. With the money that the Chancellor has made available and the additional money that will be made available through the trust reconfiguration process, it is much more likely that community hospitals will prosper under Labour's proposals than under any others.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

When the Minister reorganises the Powys and Ceredigion health trusts, will he also make provision for top slicing, so that patients in mid-Wales who need heart transplant surgery will not have to go to London but will be able to go to the long-awaited heart transplant surgery centre in the University hospital of Wales in Cardiff?

Mr. Griffiths

As my hon. Friend knows, we are working hard with NHS health authorities in Wales to strengthen the cardiac service in the UHW so that in future patients in mid-Wales can travel to Cardiff rather than London.