The Lancashire area health authority sees the hospital's closure as part of the long-term reorganisation of maternity services in the Blackburn district, but that will not take place for a number of years. Formal consultations on its proposal have yet to be undertaken and my right hon. Friend would not wish to become involved at this stage.
Does my hon. Friend realise that that small and excellent hospital is exactly the type which he must have had in mind when he spoke recently about the need to preserve small hospitals? Will he keep a watchful eye on the bureaucratic and remote actions of the Lancashire area health authority?
Let no one doubt this Government's commitment to small hospitals and their expanding role in the community. I am not surprised that my hon. and learned Friend speaks so highly of that hospital. If any proposals are brought forward I shall certainly keep his views in mind.