asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the number of paediatric beds per thousand of client population which his Department uses as a yardstick in determining the adequacy of health provision.
There is no officially accepted target level of provision of designated paediatric beds, but I am satisfied that there is adequate provision of paediatric beds in Scotland as a whole. It is primarily for health boards to determine the pattern of provision in their own areas.
Is the Minister aware that, due to pressure on its forward budget, Lothian health board has now dropped the provision for a paediatric ward in the new hospital being built at Livingston? Is he further aware that one fifth of the population of Livingston are under the age of 10? Whatever the general standards employed, does the hon. Gentleman, as Minister responsible for the Health Service in Scotland, regard it as satisfactory to provide a new hospital which will not cater for such a large chunk of the local population? If not, will he give my constitutents an assurance that the new hospital will cater for their children?
Phase 1 of the West Lothian district general hospital will provide about 400 beds, including a paediatric department of 26 beds. That project is now under construction and, as I understand it, there is no intention of altering the plans for phase 1.
I accept that this is a health board responsibility, but is my hon. Friend aware that in Aberdeen there is a surplus of paediatric beds but a need for neonatal care? Does he agree that it would he possible to reallocate resources in such a way as to meet that need?
My hon. Friend is quite right. Health boards have to ensure that the facilities provided accord with current population and demand. The decrease in the child population means that there is undoubtedly an oversupply of paediatric beds in Scotland as a whole, but more beds are needed in certain sections.
Are the running costs available for the paediatric unit under construction in Livingston?
The problem with the running costs—
Answer the question.
I am about to do so. The problem of the running costs of the West Lothian district general hospital is more attendant on phase 2. As I have explained, phase 1 contains the paediatric unit and I understand that the running costs are available.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the provisions made in Tayside, and particularly in Blairgowrie, where the cottage hospital has now become a community hospital, have achieved a sufficiency of paediatric beds and an increase in the number of geriatric beds?
My hon. Friend is quite right. In relation to all kinds of hospitals, health boards must consider the total needs of patients in the area. One of the principal needs to which I draw the attention of health boards is the need to provide more geriatric beds.
How can the Minister claim that there is an oversupply of beds in hospitals in Scotland when waiting lists and waiting time for admission are beginning to increase again? With regard to the paediatric department of the West Lothian district general hospital, if my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) is correct, as I suspect he is, and the project has been dropped, although the Minister seems to think that it is going ahead, will the Minister instruct the health board to ensure that the paediatric unit is included?
I have explained that phase 1 is already under construction and a paediatric unit of 26 beds is included in it. I also explained to the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) that phase 1 can be run without phase 2 being on stream.