§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
Wirral health authority is overspending its budget mainly as a result of unpredicted and higher-than-average costs at the new Arrowe Park hospital and has drawn up a package of economy proposals as a result. Included in this package is a proposal to transfer the general medical and geriatric patients from Cleaver hospital to vacant accommodation at the nearby Clatterbridge hospital. I have discussed this problem with my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Hunt) who expressed his concern to me on behalf of his constituents.
I have indicated to the health authority that I will agree to the temporary transfer of services from Cleaver because some urgent action must be taken whilst costs at Arrowe Park are being brought under control. However, I have also made it clear that any proposal to close the Cleaver hospital permanently must be the subject of full consultation with all interested parties. In the meantime the hospital must not be disposed of or otherwise made unsuitable for future occupation.