HL Deb 25 February 1987 vol 485 cc199-200

2.42 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

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 why the Enfield local health authority has received no reply to the scheme which it submitted to the DHSS 14 months ago for the sale of the Highland Hospital site and the development of the Chase Farm Hospital site as a district general hospital.

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

My Lords, I am pleased to inform the noble Lord that the department has now given North East Thames Regional Health Authority approval in principle to proceed with the development at Chase Farm Hospital.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Is she aware that it was given to me by my local press in exactly those words this morning? Now that the Question on the Order Paper has promoted such a speedy reply, will she be able to satisfy the community health council in Enfield that it will be consulted at all stages in the planning and preparation of the development? Also, will she give an assurance that the resources released by the land upon which housing will be built are used in such a way that there is no duplication of services and that patient care takes priority?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord on the timing of his Question. Community health councils will naturally be consulted.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, is it not fascinating to see the number of occasions when the Answer to a Question put down in your Lordships' House suddenly emerges a day in advance? We are however grateful for it. Is it not true that too often there are very long delays in taking fundamentally important decisions, and also long delays before answers to correspondence are received from health authorities in such situations?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, there are two reasons why this approval has taken longer than we would normally expect. First, the health authorities concerned applied to the department for a central grant towards the medical teaching aspects of the scheme and it has taken a considerable time to secure evidence that such a grant could be justified. Secondly, the department has also had to be satisfied that approving this scheme would not prejudice the outcome of another current proposal for a hospital development in an adjacent district health authority.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, I am sincerely grateful to the Minister for the tenor of the reply. But I hope she will understand that delays of this length cause havoc to the morale of the staff in hospitals whose future is being determined. Will she try to ensure not only that there is less delay, but also that staff are kept as fully informed as possible, even if no progress at all is being made?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I am a great believer in liaison with staff over any developments in their districts and regions.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, can my noble friend tell the House whether there will be a spinal injuries unit at Chase Farm Hospital?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, as the noble Lord will know, there are two main acute hospitals, Chase Farm and the Highland. Both provide a range of general acute services. Accident and emergency services are available at Chase Farm which will also provide the district's maternity services. Acute surgery will be provided in the new teaching hospital.

Back to