asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will make a statement about the scheme for redevelopment of the Leeds General Infirmary.
The scheme constituting the first phase of the redevelopment of the Leeds General Infirmary was, prior to the cuts in NHS capital expenditure introduced by the previous Government in December 1973, planned to start in 197475. Since then it has had to be deferred because it would have pre-empted an undue share of the reduced amount of capital which was available for that and subsequent years.
The main importance of the development stems not so much from its service need, considerable though this is, but from its rôle in making it possible to expand the numbers of medical students at Leeds University, which is a high national priority. The present intake of medical students is planned to rise to 216 by 1980. On my recent visit to Leeds I talked to representatives from the university, hospital staff and the local community.
I was convinced that to help the university meet its target figure for medical students the scheme should be given as high a priority as we could, and I arranged for it to be re-examined by my Department in consultation with representatives of the Regional Health Authority and the Area Health Authority (Teaching). This study has shown it to be feasible to reduce significantly the number of beds originally planned to be included in the scheme, whilst still enabling essential service needs to be met as well as the university's requirements for clinical facilities to match the planned increase in the intake of medical students. Much work remains to be done on the plans, but these reductions in content will bring down costs to a level which should enable the scheme to be fitted into the kind of reduced capital programme indicated by my right hon. Friend in her reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins) on 15th April.—[Vol. 890, c. 85–88.]
The RHA has always attached a very high priority to the scheme and is now planning on the basis that, subject to the satisfactory completion of the necessary detailed replanning and the continuation of the present expectations of future capital resources, it should be possible to start the revised scheme during 1977.