HC Deb 05 July 1978 vol 953 cc226-8W
Mr.Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Social Servcices whether he will make a statement arising out of his recent discussions with the chairmen of the South East Thames Regional Health Authority and the Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Area Health Authority.


I have had discussions with the chairman of the South-East Thames Regional Health Authority and with the chairman and vice-chairman of the Lamebth, Southwark and Lewisham AHA(T) about the general situation in the area and the financial allocations to the AHA(T) in the current and succeeding financial years.

My first conclusion is that there are special problems within the area; touching among other things upon coterminosity with the London boroughs. I have therefore called for a report to be made to me by the end of the year on whether changes in sructure and organisation could be beneficial to the handling of those problems and, if so, how the changes could be made.

Secondly, I have concluded that I can reach no judgment on the long-term situation for the area until the authority has drawn up long-term plans on the basis of national and regional guidelines and these have been considered by the RHA.

Thirdly, as to the immediate future, I must make it clear that I support the RHA's view that, on present and likely resource assumptions, financial allocations to the AHA(T) should be progressively reduced. In particular, I agree with the RHA that the AHA(T) should plan to reduce its annual current expenditure by about £3 million in the 1979–80 financial year. I expect the AHA(T) to make significant progress towards this objective in the current financial year. To this end I am asking for a report to be made to me, jointly by the AHA(T) and RHA, setting out the action proposed and the progress made and expected when the half-yearly returns are submitted.

I have also agreed with the RHA that any proposals and adjustments made with respect to the AHA(T) must not affect the allocations made to other areas in the region.

I must make it absolutely clear that all health authorities must control their expenditure within the cash limit allocations. This is an essential feature of the Government's control of public expenditure. I have therefore urged upon the chairmen the necessity for the AHA(T) to plan its expenditure within the limits which I have identified above. I am satisfied that this can be done without putting

Cots available
Hospital Designated special care unit Intensive care unit
Eastern Health and Social Services Board:
Royal Maternity Hospital, Belfast 41
Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children 6
Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, Belfast 17
Belfast City Hospital 46
Lagan Valley Hospital, Lisburn 3
Mater Infirmorum Hospital, Belfast 4
Total Board 24 93
Northern Health and Social Services Board:
Waverley Hospital, Ballymena 4
Route Hospital, Ballymoney 4
Moyle Hospital, Larne 6
Mid-Ulster Hospital, Magherafelt 5
Total Board 19
Western Health and Social Services Board:
Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry 31
Tyrone County Hospital, Omagh 8
Total Board 39
Southern Health and Social Services Board:
Craigavon Hospital, Craigavon 28
Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry 3
Total Board 31
Total Northern Ireland 113 93

Intensive care for the newborn is provided as a Regional speciality in Bel

essential services to patients or the obligations to medical education of the teaching hospitals at risk. Health authorities throughout the country have been generally successful in controlling their expenditure. Moreover, in so doing, several authorities in London, facing problems similar to those of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, have been able to achieve substantial economies in the past two years. I do not accept that Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham cannot achieve a similar result.