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Hospitals (Closures)

Volume 974: debated on Monday 26 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will issue new guidelines to area and regional health authorities on the closure of hospitals and units, to contain (a) provision for full consultation with all interested parties, where temporary closure is intended by the authority and (b) a time limit of three months on any temporary closure agreed by the authorities.

Existing guidance already provides for full consultation on hospital or unit closures, whether permanent or temporary, which amount to substantial variations in local health services, except where the health authority considers that urgent action is essential in the interest of the health service. However, the Department is about to issue further guidance clarifying the position. As to the hon. Member's second suggestion, I doubt whether a time limit on temporary closures would suit all circumstances or would be helpful.