HC Deb 27 February 1936 vol 309 cc667-9W

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that a decision has been arrived at to close down Ralston Hospital and remove ex-service men who are at present under treatment there to Erskine Hospital; and whether, as the Ministry of Pensions is responsible for those wounded ex-service men, he will take steps to have Ralston Hospital taken over by the Ministry or some other place equally accessible?

Marquess of CLYDESDALE

asked the Minister of Pensions whether his notice has been drawn to the decision of the Red Cross to close Ralston Hospital, Paisley, and transfer the patients to Erskine Hospital; is he aware that this transference may be detrimental to the welfare of the patients, who are all ex-service men, and that a public meeting was held last week in Paisley to protest against the decision; and will lie consider endeavouring to prevent this move?


asked the Minister of Pensions whether his attention has been drawn to the decision of the Red Cross to close Ralston Hospital, Paisley, and to transfer the patients to Erskine Hospital; and whether he has satisfied himself that this decision will be in no way injurious to the welfare of the patients who are all disabled ex-service men?


I apologise for the length of the answer but the question has excited much local controversy. Ralston House belongs to and is wholly under the control and management of the Scottish branch of the Red Cross Society. My position and interest in the institution are confined to arranging with the management to maintain and treat a limited number of patients. The patients for whom my Department is responsible are those, and those only, whose disability is accepted as having been caused or worsened by war service. They number 21 out of a total body of 40, the balance being maintained at the charge of the Red Cross. Ralston House was designed to accommodate some 60 patients but the beds have not for many years been fully occupied.

The property is held on lease by the Red Cross Society who informed me in November last that they found it advisable to terminate their lease at Whitsuntide, 1936, and had arranged with the Princess Louise Hospital at Erskine to receive their patients. I was not in a position to interfere with this decision, even had I thought it desirable. But I took steps at once to make sure that the welfare and comfort of the patients would be adequately provided for and I am satisfied that this will be fully secured.

The Red Cross Society have expended a considerable sum in having part of the premises at Erskine altered to accommodate the new patients. Further, they assured me, in response to my inquiries, that they intend to keep an ambulance at Erskine to take patients into town who wish to visit their friends and also to provide a regular omnibus service from Paisley to Erskine two or three times a week for those friends who wish to visit the patients. I may add that the Ministry's patients come from all parts of Scotland, but a majority belong to Glasgow, and only one to Paisley.

I have satisfied myself by personal inspection that the patients will receive the best possible care at Erskine; while they will enjoy amenities and entertainments there on at least as good a scale as at Ralston.