§ Mr. Dobson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the Government's policy on the hospital specialties which should be provided by each health district.
§ Mr. Newton
The Government's policy is that all patients should have access to the services they need; and that services should be provided in the most effective way, bearing in mind that for the more highly specialised services some degree of centralisation may be needed to maintain levels of clinical expertise or to make efficient use of costly equipment. The majority specialties, such as general medicine, general surgery, paediatrics, geriatrics, and mental illness, would be expected to be provided in every health district.
At the opposite extreme, some services, such as heart and liver transplantation have been designated as supra-regional services and will be provided only in a small number of national centres. In between it is for regional and district health authorities to determine the best way to provide services in the light of the general principles set out above and of local geographical factors.