New Hospitals (County Durham)

Oral Answers to Questions — Hospitals – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington 12:00 am, 6th July 1964

asked the Minister of Health what was the number of new hospitals built in the County of Durham since January 1952.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

None, but over £5½ million has been spent on improvements to hospitals in the county. Site work on a new district general hospital at North Tees has also begun, and work on substantially remodelled hospitals at Shotley Bridge and Darlington is in progress.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is the Minister aware that since 1952—during the course of 12 years—we have had six Conservative Ministers of Health, none of whom has been able to produce a hospital in the County of Durham? Is he also aware that his predecessor, in reply to a Question I put about the need for a hospital in the new town of Peterlee, a town with a rapidly-growing population and a very clamant need for hospital accommodation, informed me that a hospital was being extended in Stockton, 20 miles away? Is that position regarded as satisfactory?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I have pointed out that already £5½ million have been spent on improvements to the hospitals in the county. The North Tees General Hospital will be a completely new hospital and, as I said, the Shotley Bridge Hospital and the Darlington General Hospital will be substantially remodelled, and major schemes are now in progress at both. It is planned that the West Hartlepool General Hospital, the Sunderland General Hospital, the South Shields General Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, and Bishop Auckland General Hospital will all be substantially remodelled, and major schemes for all are planned to start in the next five years.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

All those extensions are remote from the area with which I am primarily concerned, which has a rapidly-growing population, as I have said. It is at the very centre of a still prosperous mining industry, where, unfortunately, many accidents occur. Is not this a bad situation? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that even in the limited time at his disposal he might be able to initiate something?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

There is no difference between hon. Members on the two sides of the Chamber as to the size of the hospital programme. The question at issue is really one of priorities, and I should have thought from what I have seen of what is being done in the area that we had the priorities right. I must say to the right hon. Gentleman that last year the Labour Party scoffed when we said that we would start one new or substantially remodelled hospital every 19 days—but we did it. And this year we shall start one every ten days.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that our hospital services on the North-East Coast were, for a variety of reasons, very behindhand after the war, and that when the capital allocation was made at the time of the establishment of the National Health Act, no additional capital allocations were made to the North-East Coast, and it was left to the Conservative Government to put up the capital allocation, which those concerned there were glad to receive?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for having made that point which, I am bound to say, had not occurred to me.