§ Mr. Etherington
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the NHS has in(a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01 and (c) 2001 to 2003 to (i) reduce the number of hospital beds and (ii) close hospitals in Sunderland; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hutton
In 2000–01 the Ryhope Hospital will close and all services will move to the Sunderland Royal Hospital site as part of the redevelopment of the site. This will reduce the fragmentation of acute services, improving clinical configuration and access to specialist equipment, in high quality purpose-built accommodation. We are committed to modernising the National Health Service and this redevelopment will offer better quality treatment. There is no planned reduction in numbers of patients being cared for, although it will be possible to achieve this in very slightly fewer beds than at present (931 from 942) because of the improved acute bed facilities.