I am satisfied that within the resources available the South Western Region gets its fair share. The special needs of each region are taken into account in determining capital and revenue allocations. The special extra capital allocation to hospital boards for 1965–66 of £5 million has been distributed in a way that enables a start to be made by this and other boards on schemes ready and scheduled to start in that year.
Will the Minister do his best to ensure that there is at least enough of the allocation available for improvements to the Bridgwater Hospital, which has been making a very valuable contribution for a long time, and is still doing so, to the area around it as well as to Bridgwater itself?
I understand that, subject to the outcome of the review, it is unlikely that rebuilding of the Mary Stanley Maternity Home at Bridgwater will be possible for some years, but the board has in hand plans for interim improvements to the outpatient and other facilities at Bridgwater Hospital.
Has my right hon. Friend taken note of the sudden and passionate yearning displayed by hon. Members opposite for improved hospital services, about which they were pretty dumb until last October?
This problem was brought to the attention of my right hon. Friend during his recent visit to the South Western Region. Both the Regional Hospital Board and the Board of Governors of the United Bristol Hospitals are planning further major schemes which should relieve pressure.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary bear in mind the very real need for a new hospital in North Devon, and that we are not overstating our case? The staff are frustrated and there is a long waiting list of patients for surgical treatment. Can the hon. Gentleman now tell us whether the South Western Board is able to revise its building programme?
The South Western Board is considering the building programme. So far as North Devon is concerned, the board has plans for releasing certain space in the North Devon Infirmary for a few additional beds and another operating theatre. This should improve the situation. We appreciate the problem. My right hon. Friend realises it in consequence of his visit, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are now giving it every consideration.