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The Grove Maternity Hospital, Barton-On-Sea

Volume 35: debated on Tuesday 18 January 1983

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the future of the Grove maternity hospital Barton-on-Sea.

In March 1981, after considering the case put forward for the closure of the Grove maternity hospital, my predecessor decided that the hospital should remain open and be given the opportunity to develop. The Southampton and South-West Hampshire health authority is now carrying out a review of the situation on the Grove's future, but no conclusion has yet been reached.

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his reply and apologise for continuing to press the case for the Grove hospital. However, is he satisfied that the health authority has done what it was told to do by his predecessor with regard to investment and use of facilities? With regard to the future of the Grove, can he confirm that there is no question that he will become involved until those obligations have been clearly carried out?

I am aware of my hon. Friend's interest in this subject, and he has brought a deputation to see me about the matter. At the moment the health authority is reviewing the future and considering the case, but has reached no conclusions. I will not be involved unless for some reason the authority again decides to propose closure. Before anything was put to me, I should need to be satisfied that the spirit of my predecessor's original decision had been complied with in every way.

What would be the effect on the maternity unit at the Southampton general hospital of keeping the Grove open?

Those are matters that should be left to the health authority. I rely on its judgment in looking at maternity services in the area as a whole, which is what it is doing now. I hope that it will be able to draw up a clear future programme for maternity services that will meet all the queries of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) and the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell).