Yes, Sir. We have approved the letting of the contract for the first phase of the new general hospital for the district, which will include an accident and emergency department. Building began last November and the hospital is expected to open in the financial year 1986–87.
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that that district, under whatever administration, and whatever organisation of the Health Service, has remained seriously underfunded under the Department's own formula? What certainty is there that when the hospital opens there will be an accident and emergency service ready to move into the hospital? Should not appointments be made now, especially at consultant level?
We have allocated additional money to the West Midlands region, and through the region to the district, to overcome the underfunding. We examined the proposals for the new district hospital with considerable care to ensure that the planning provided for the necessary revenue to open it on time. I assure my hon. Friend that there will be an accident and emergency department serving the district in the new hospital when it opens in 1986–87.