HL Deb 30 April 1987 vol 486 cc1603-4
The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what alternative is being offered to patients following the planned closure of the 30-bed McGarvey Alcohol Unit in Mendip Hospital in March 1988.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Baroness Trumpington)

My Lords, in answer to the right reverend Prelate, Somerset Health Authority is planning to improve the services available to patients with alcohol problems by providing 16 community-based beds in four smaller units round the county to replace the 15 currently in use in the McGarvey ward in the Mendip Hospital in Wells. In the meantime, patients will be accommodated in other beds in the Mendip, Tone Vale (Taunton) and Yeovil general hospitals, where they will continue to receive proper care.

The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. As chairman of the Somerset Council on Alcoholism, may I ask whether the Minister reckons that, given a limited pot of gold, on the whole the Somerset authority is using the money in the best available way?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to pay tribute to the Somerset Health Authority for its sensitive, sensible and efficient approach to this problem. I should also like to pay tribute to the right reverend Prelate for the hard work that he does on this issue. I know that the voluntary Somerset Council on Alcoholism, of which the right reverend Prelate is chairman, provides an advice and counselling service and has a local drink-watchers group based at Taunton, with sub-centres at Bridgwater, Yeovil, Minehead, Wells, Shepton Mallet and Chard. It is the sort of community involvement towards which this Government are looking.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that if this provides a better service than that which is now already provided, the House would wish to welcome it? Perhaps I may ask her whether the community health council has taken a position on this and has supported it, and, if it has not done so, whether this is a decision that has been taken by the Secretary of State to close the existing service.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, will know that any closure goes through various channels before closure takes place. Had there been any complaints from the local community health council, the matter would have come to the Secretary of State. I am unaware that it has done so.