Hospitals (Brighton and Lewes)

Oral Answers to Questions — Hospitals – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th August 1966.

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Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes 12:00 am, 8th August 1966

asked the Minister of Health why the Regional Hospital Board's proposals for hospital developments in the Brighton and Lewes Group involve the wasteful duplication of expensive specialised medical services such as radiology and pathology and operating theatres; and who represented the authors of the alternative consultants' plan dated March, 1966, at the meeting of the Board on 16th April last.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

The regional hospital board's proposals do not involve the duplication of services but the replacement and expansion of existing services. Ten of the consultants concerned were present at the meeting with the board, which took place on 14th April last.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that a very important ingredient for the success of proposals of this kind is local good will? Is he aware that this is, unhappily, sadly lacking from the point of view of local public opinion and professional opinion? Does he not think, in these circumstances, that it is essential for him to hold a public inquiry, which I mention in Question No. 32, with a view to either justifying or modifying these proposals?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

No, Sir. While we, of course, want to carry local public opinion with us in local developments of this kind, there has been full consultation in this case. There will, I understand, be an opportunity to debate this matter later today, and I think that it would be better if we left the matter till then.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

asked the Minister of Health on what date, and from what source, he received the consultants plan for hospital services in the Brighton and Lewes group; when, and by whom, he was informed that this plan has the overwhelming support of professional medical opinion in the area; and if he will arrange for a public inquiry at which the relative merits of this plan and the proposals of the regional hospital board can be compared.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

A memorandum was handed to me in December last by the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Sir W. Teeling) who informed me that the suggestions made had a large measure of local support. I see no purpose in further discussion of the alternatives.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Although, as the right hon. Gentleman said when replying to the last Question, this matter will be debated later today, will he at least give an assurance at this stage that he still has an open mind on the issue?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

No, Sir, because I do not have an open mind on the matter. The contract for the Royal Sussex County Hospital has been let and work will start later this month.

Photo of Mr Luke Teeling Mr Luke Teeling , Brighton, Pavilion

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the memorandum which I put before him has been revised since then and that I understand that it has been put before him again by another hon. Member?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

Yes, Sir. This is one of the matters which I propose to deal with in the debate later today.