HC Deb 22 May 1979 vol 967 cc115-8W
Mr. Dobson

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has reached a decision on the future of the

Mrs. Chalker

The information requested is given below.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

The future of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital has been the subject of widespread debate for several years. The previous Government explored various possibilities for transferring the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson's services to other hospitals and closing the building on the Euston Road site. A solution on these lines proved unacceptable to many of the interests concerned, and in consequence uncertainty was allowed to continue.

In the Government's view, what is needed is a role for the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson which would be both consistent with the long tradition of the hospital and the principles of its founder, and at the same time fulfil a genuine need for women not currently met by the health services in that part of London. The role that we have identified is for a women's hospital dealing with women's disorders both for out-patients and inpatients.

Subject, therefore, to what is said below about finance, I have decided that the hospital should in future provide an extensive range of out-patient and clinic services in the gynaecological field—including family planning, infertility investigations, pregnancy terminations, screening and counselling services—and be supported by a day hospital of about 18 beds and an in-patient gynaecology unit of about 40 beds. The hospital should operate in close association with a nearby general hospital and would be intended to serve a wide catchment area in the North Thames regions but not exclusively so.

Money is available within the revenue allocations to the North-East Thames region to cover the running costs of such a hospital, but the Government are convinced that the capital cost can and should be met in partnership between the Government and voluntary contributors. We are satisfied that there are many individuals and organisations who would wish to join in raising the necessary funds, and who have already expressed their support.

Detailed arrangements are still under consideration, but, as an indication, the Government undertake to finance the capital cost of the basic in-patient and related out-patient services, while we would look to voluntary funds to finance the day hospital and the wide range of out-patient and clinic services which could properly be carried on at the hospital. It would, of course, be open to those concerned, once these facilities are operating, to examine whether other related services should be developed on the site.

I am asking the health authorities to set up a joint project team and produce detailed plans as a matter of urgency. Redevelopment will take time. Meanwhile, the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson should take a step towards its new role by concentrating its in-patient gynaecology services in its temporary accommodation at the Whittington and maintaining its related out-patient services at Euston road.

It is my hope that this announcement will remove the uncertainty that has for too long persisted. With the Government and the NHS prepared to commit resources to the hospital, I hope that the necessary support will now be forthcoming from public subscriptions and other voluntary sources, so that all can work together with enthusiasm to open a new chapter in the long and distinguished history of this much-loved women's hospital.

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