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Leith Hospital

Volume 114: debated on Wednesday 8 April 1987

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1.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations he has received about the future of Leith hospital; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Speaker, may I first explain to the House the absence of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland? He has a possible fracture to his left ankle and has been advised to move around as little as possible this week.

My right hon. and learned Friend has received 24 letters, mainly from members of the public, since the announcement last September that all but out-patient services would be withdrawn from Leith hospital.

As the National Health Service is supposed to be safe in the Government's hands, surely it is reasonable to expect a replacement hospital to be built before the present one is demolished. Will the Minister meet members of the local community, myself and other interested hon. Members to discuss this matter, bearing in mind that much fresh information has come to hand in recent weeks? Will he do that, or are we to be snubbed yet again by Lord Glenarthur — a situation that has been developing since the Minister with responsibility for health in Scotland took over?

I understand that the board plans to build a new hospital for the elderly in Leith. However, I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that there are new and expanding facilities all over Edinburgh, including, for example, the new development of 144 beds and supporting services at the Western general hospital in Edinburgh, which will be opened later this year for the benefit of all patients in Edinburgh, including those in Leith.

The Leith hospital should come under the ambit of the Lothian health board, but how can we have any confidence in that health board when we know, from recent appointments made to the health board by the Secretary of State, that people on that board with Labour sympathies were dismissed? Is the Minister aware that what happened in Midlothian is a perfect disgrace, because two members with Labour sympathies were dismissed and replaced by one Tory placeman?

There is always a change of members of health boards. Some members serve a term, two terms, or sometimes more, and they are replaced by other members. We look, not to political affiliation, but to achieving a balanced representation on the health board that will run efficient health services. I would have thought that the Labour party would be interested in that aspect, and not in trying to make political points about appointments.