§ Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans he has to increase health service provision in the Cannock Chase district; and if he will resist the proposed closure of the Rugeley Hospital Casualty Unit.
§ Mr. Moyle
Staffordshire area health authority's plans include the provision of an 122-bed community hospital at Cannock and I understand that the West Midlands regional health authority hopes to reach a decision on the priority that can be accorded to this in the new year. The area health authority also intends to convert the former White Lodge psychiatric unit in Cannock to a community unit for up to 14 mentally handicapped people by the summer of next year, and is discussing with Staffordshire county council the provision through joint finance funds of a 40-place day unit for elderly people at Chase hospital. Also planned, when resources permit, are a health centre at Heath Hayes and the extension and upgrading of the Beecroft Road clinic in Cannock.
I understand that there has been community health council objection to the proposed closure of the casualty unit at Rugeley Hospital. If therefore the Staffordshire area health authority and in turn the West Midlands regional health authority wish to proceed with closure the consent of my right hon. Friend will be necessary. This stage, however, has not been reached as the area health 32W authority has not yet decided, in the light of local representations received, whether or not to recommend the closure to the regional health authority.