Beckenham Hospital

Part of Petitions – in the House of Commons at 2:18 pm on 20th December 1985.

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Photo of Sir Ray Whitney Sir Ray Whitney , Wycombe 2:18 pm, 20th December 1985

My point is that this is still an issue for the health authority. As my hon. Friend recognises, our system must be based on policies being made essentially at district health authority level. The region and the Department only take part at appropriate points in the process.

Given that the health authority is above RAWP and that financial adjustments are still to be made, I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that better dispositions of resources can be achieved. Therefore, it must be right for the health authority to examine all the available options, taking due account of the sensitivities of local support for particular services and facilities. I hope that my hon. Friend will not seek to cramp the authority's intellectual style in the search both for the most effective use of resources and, more important, for the delivery of the services which his constituents need. I understand that the health authority is adopting that approach. Obviously, we shall maintain close contact with it.

The proposition is that the acute services will be dealt with in two hospitals rather than four, taking account of the fact that the hospital throughput is rather slow and expensive for acute services. Clearly there is a need for improvement. The delivery of the full range of high-quality clinical acute treatment is difficult to achieve. It is not for the Department or Ministers to take a decision on that. However, we must consider whether these days an 80-bed hospital can truly provide the level of acute treatment that our constituents have a right to expect. Whatever may have happened on 17 December, I understand that the authority has judged that the answer to the provision of a better service is to concentrate acute services in two hospitals, and to use the facility at Beckenham hospital for geriatric and mental illness provision.

We have watched the development of the issue carefully, and I have no doubt that the chairman and members of the district health authority of Bromley will take careful note of the points made with sincerity and conviction by my hon. Friends. The community health council has been involved in the discussions from the earliest stages. It appreciates the need to put the proposals into effect. But the measures will be the subject of the usual consultation, and Ministers will not come to a firm view unless and until the proposals are referred to the Department for consideration.