§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans he has for casualty and accident facilities in hospitals serving population areas of less than 150,000.
§ Mr. Crossman
It is for regional hospital boards in consultation with boards of governors of teaching hospitals to plan the rationalisation of accident and emergency services in their regions and their concentration into major departments capable of giving a full service at any hour of the day or night, as recommended by the Standing Medical Advisory Committee sub-committee on Accident and Emergency Services. In some areas the retention of accident and emergency departments serving populations less than the minimum of 150,000 recommended by the sub-committee will be justified although in these it may well be difficult to provide a full service at all times.
The first responsibility of hospitals is to provide a service for the seriously injured and emergency cases, and it is in the interest of such patients that they should be taken direct to a hospital that has the full supporting services needed to deal with them. Full services can generally be provided only where a population of 150,000 or more is served. Patients with minor injuries not requiring hospital attention are the responsibility of the general practitioner services and the development of group practices and health centres is making it easier for general practitioners to fulfil this responsibility.