§ 49. Mr. Les Huckfield
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what procedures must be followed by district and regional health authorities for either closure or change of use for hospitals.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
Proposals for hospital closures originate with health authorities, who have a statutory responsibility to consult local interests on any substantial variation in the provision of local health services. The responsible health authority will initiate formal consultation by issuing a consultative document on the proposed closure. This should set out the reasons for the closure; relationship to other developments in the authority's plans; and the implications for patients, their families, staff and the community.
Comments are invited, within three months, from a wide range of interested bodies including community health councils, local authorities, joint staff consultative committees, family practitioner committees, local Members of Parliament and any other body the authority considers should be consulted, such as voluntary organisations. Copies of all comments are sent to the community health council for the district in which the hospital is situated and the council may submit comments upon them and put forward counter proposals. If the council agrees to the closure the health authority may proceed with its plans. If the council does not, the health authority will consider the council's comments and counter proposals, and, if it wishes to proceed with the closure, refer the proposal with recommendations to the regional health authority. If the regional health authority decides to proceed with the closure it will refer the proposal to the department for Ministerial decision.
Exceptionally, a health authority may close a hospital temporarily without full consultation if the need is so urgent that delay would not be in the interest of the health service.140W
The same requirements apply to proposals for changes of use of hospitals.