HC Deb 06 March 1995 vol 256 c83W
Mr. McMaster

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what guidelines he has issued to NHS trusts in Scotland regarding the use of staff facilities including canteens and cafeterias, for hiring out for commercial catering functions; what guidelines he has issued to prohibit or discourage such practice and use; what assessment he has made of the practice of the Royal Alexandra hospital, Paisley; what action he intends to take; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what facilities are available in the Royal Alexandra hospital, Paisley for supplying hot meals to staff; for what reasons such facilities are not always available for staff use; what alternative arrangements are made on such occasions; and if he will make a statement;

(3) when the dance floor in the staff facilities at the Royal Alexander hospital in Paisley was installed; how much it cost; who approved the expenditure; what cost-benefit analysis was carried out; what were the results of that study; what are the precise projections of financial commercial gain to the trust; to what use any profit will be applied; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Section 7 of the Health and Medicines Act 1988 gives health bodies the power to generate additional funds to be used for the purposes of enhancing and improving patient care. Income generation is now an integral part of all NHS activity, but no specific guidance has been issued to NHS trusts regarding the use of staff facilities. It is for each NHS trust to determine opportunities for generating income from non-clinical activities.

There have only been two occasions when the main dining room at the Royal Alexander hospital has been closed for the night meal service. On these occasions staff were informed in advance that an alternative facility would be available in the maternity unit dining room, an area which is not normally open at night. Hot food was available to staff on both these occasions.

An area suitable for dancing was created within the dining room in December 1994 at a cost of £3,000. This was met from hospital endowment funds following approval by the trust's investments committee. The income generated will he re-invested in the endowment funds. No Exchequer funds were involved.

The dining room has been hired out for functions for a number of years, and the income received is invested in enhancing patient care services. The main impetus for improved social facilities came from hospital staff.