St. Lawrence Hospital, Chepstow

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th July 1971.

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Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West 12:00 am, 19th July 1971

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he proposes to transfer the St. Lawrence Hospital, Chepstow, to Cardiff ; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

I cannot give a firm date. The transfer of the plastic surgery and burns unit is being planned together with the reorganisation of hospital services in the Cardiff area.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the uncertainty about their future is undermining the morale of people engaged in this hospital? Although I in no way assume that the Secretary of State has yet paid a visit to this hospital, I should like to ask whether he is able to announce a firm decision so that people can make arrangements accordingly.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

With regard to the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's question, I am glad to be able to say that in the last year I have visited over 20 hospitals in Wales. With regard to his other point, this is part of a complex reorganisation of hospital services in the Cardiff area ; the planning and execution of the necessary work inevitably will take some time.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

May I press the Minister : when does he expect to make an announcement about the transfer of this hospital? This matter affects the people in the whole of South Wales, and everybody has a right to know.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

Yes, I am happy to be pressed by the right hon. Gentleman because this is a most important matter, but I cannot be more specific about the date as this depends on the completion of adaptations of the Cardiff Royal Infirmary, which will house the burns unit, and the Prince of Wales Orthopaedic Hospital, which will accommodate the plastic surgery unit.

Photo of Mr John Stradling Thomas Mr John Stradling Thomas , Monmouth

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is great pride in Chepstow over the St. Lawrence Hospital, and that many of the staff, built up over the years, with great experience of this specialist and most important field of medicine, will probably be unable to make the transition to Cardiff? Is he also aware, with regard to staffing at the top level, that consultants at the hospital are below the establishment necessary, and are grossly overworked, and that a speedy decision is vital? Should not the future of St. Lawrence Hospital be given very serious consideration?

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's remarks ; I know his interest in this matter, and I accept a great deal of what he says. However, it is a fact that the present unit is not well situated. Plastic and burns surgery is a highly specialised matter, as my hon. Friend said, and needs to be provided at a regional centre. I assure my hon. Friend that we will continue to give this matter every possible urgent assistance.