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Community Hospital (Eltham)

Volume 512: debated on Tuesday 29 June 2010

8. What recent representations he has received on the new community hospital for Eltham; and if he will make a statement. (4466)

The Department of Health is in contact with strategic health authorities regarding ongoing community hospital programme funding. This includes contact with the London SHA for Eltham and Mottingham community hospital and other schemes in the region.

I am grateful for that answer, as far as it went—but there is a great deal of expectation in the community in Eltham that that project will be delivered. It has been in the pipeline for quite some time and will provide 40 respite beds, diagnostics such as blood tests and X-rays and, I hope, dialysis at a local level, as well as a GP-led walk-in urgent care centre. May I urge the Minister to revisit the project, and when I ask a future question, to come back with a better answer?

I am a bit perplexed by the hon. Gentleman’s comments, because I have answered the specific narrow question that he asked—but let me try to cheer him up, if I can. We understand that he has been a redoubtable campaigner for the hospital, and we support the principle of community hospitals. The Department, as the hon. Gentleman knows, allocated £4.58 million to help the community hospital in Eltham and has already given about £1.9 million to NHS Greenwich, the primary care trust, for it. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not have to come back to me with another question, because I trust that I am now going to cheer him up: I can announce today that the balance of the money will be paid and made available during the current financial year.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on that announcement, which will bring considerable pleasure to people in south-east London. He is well aware that proposals are being made within our area of south-east London to reorganise health provision, which are causing considerable concern. Will he ensure that vital services are maintained in our area for patients?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As he rightly says, I am aware of the situation. As he will be aware, we believe that local people, local clinicians and local GPs should have an input into any reconfiguration of health care provision. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said when he announced the changes to the criteria, there will be an assessment of whether they apply to the reconfiguration to which my hon. Friend refers. Once that has been done and decisions have been reached, we will be able to move forward in the proper way.