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Hospital Closures

Volume 975: debated on Tuesday 11 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many hospital beds have been closed in each hospital region over the past month; and how many more closures are contemplated.

A total of 381 beds were permanently closed during November. At 30 September 1979 proposals for closures involving 2,153 beds were under formal consultation. I am circulating in the Official Report figures by region for both categories.

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us by how much these figures will accelerate over the next 12 months? Can he go even further and say whether there is any prospect of this trend being reversed during the course of the disastrous period of existence of the present Government, with their disregard for the enormous benefits that the country has had from the National Health Service since its inception?

If I have followed the hon. Gentleman's question accurately, I refer him to the answer I gave a moment ago. Only this morning we introduced the consultation paper on the reorganisation of the Health Service, which will substantially help in the administration, management and costs of that Service.

Does my hon. Friend recognise that the main reason for the closure of beds was the total failure of the previous Administration to prevent disruptive action in the National Health Service? Does he also recognise that there will be overwhelming support in the country for the proposal produced by my right hon. Friend to ensure that this does not happen again?

Yes, I agree entirely. I should also point out that the appalling and contemptible picketing of Charing Cross hospital increased the urgent waiting list from 213 to 564 patients. That is dreadful.

How many National Health Service units have been closed by the St. Helens and Knowsley area health authority, what is the cause of the closures and what will the hon. Gentleman do about it?

I understand that consultation is taking place on this. It is something that I should be glad to look into and let the hon. Gentleman know the result.

Following is the information:


Beds permanently closed 1–30 November1979

Proposals to close under formal consultation at 30 September 1979 Number of beds

East Anglian10
North-West Thames44152
North-East Thames299
South-East Thames20
South-West Thames156
West Midlands6092