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Hospital Projects

Volume 886: debated on Thursday 20 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) on what statistical criteria of medical need she makes assessments of the relative priorities of various schemes for new district general hospitals;(2) if she will list in the

Official Report the capital starts permitted during 1975 for the erection of new district general hospitals; and on what criteria such starts were permitted;

(3) what guidance she gives to regional health authorities concerning priorities for capital starts on district general hospitals.

The national priorities to be observed in selecting the few major new building schemes which can be started in 1975–76 within the increased, but nevertheless limited, resources available were set out by my right hon. Friend in her statement to the House on 2nd December 1974.—[Vol. 882, c. 1210–16.] These priorities and the resources available were communicated to regional health authorities with whom consultations have since taken place. We are trying to define objective criteria for the definition of health need, but it is difficult to avoid some subjective judgment in such a complex area. We are, however, determined to allocate resources by need as far as possible. I am still considering proposals for the 1975–76 capital programme.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is satisfied with the procedures hitherto adopted for preparation of plans for, and allocation of capital funds to, new hospitals; and if she will make a statement.

No. Since taking office we have given urgent priority to restructuring the criteria for allocating resources which have hitherto perpetuated considerable inequalities in health care and provision. We are urgently reviewing the methods of allocating funds to health authorities to make them more responsive to needs.We have also to deal immediately with the effect upon the forward programme of planned capital building of the moratorium imposed by the previous Government in 1973–74 followed by a 20 per cent. cut in the 1974–75 programme. We are determined to ensure that planning of the forward programme is based upon realistic assumptions of economic growth and that undue resources are not committed to planning schemes for which a starting date cannot be given with any assurance that it can be met. We intend to introduce a forward programme in which are identified a few schemes of very high priority on which planning can confidently go forward; a group of priority schemes in which it is reasonable to invest planning resources but for which starting dates cannot be set with absolute assurance; and finally, a group of desirable schemes which, whilst allowing some forward planning, should not commit heavy planning resources which may turn out to have been wasted.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will list in the Official Report the names of hospital projects for which significant architectural fees or consultancy costs have been incurred, showing in each case the sums expended and the stage of approval reached.

This information cannot be collected without a fairly considerable amount of effort. If my hon. Friend will let me know if he has a particular project in mind I will let him have the details for that project.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will publish in the Official Report the list of hospital projects cancelled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's economic statement of December 1973, marking those that have since been reinstated.

No major hospital projects have been cancelled as a result of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's economic statement of December 1973. However, a large number of schemes will have to be deferred as a result of the 20 per cent. cut in capital expenditure for 1974–75 imposed by the previous Government. Without the additional funds which my right hon. Friend intends to provide in 1975–76 no major schemes could have started in that financial year. The extent to which schemes have been deferred will depend on a large number of factors in which cost, though dominant, will not be the only factor.