St. James Hospital

Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th January 1987.

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Photo of Mr Tom Cox Mr Tom Cox , Tooting 12:00 am, 13th January 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what discussions he has had with the Wandsworth health authority as to the possible closure of St. James hospital, Balham, SW 12.

Photo of Mrs Edwina Currie Mrs Edwina Currie , South Derbyshire

None, Sir. The matter is still under consideration locally and has not yet come to Ministers.

Photo of Mr Tom Cox Mr Tom Cox , Tooting

Is the Minister aware of the utter confusion now existing in Wandsworth because of the incompetence of the Wandsworth health authority in following the correct procedures on consultation and discussion in the community? Is she further aware of the complete opposition in the borough of Wandsworth, even of the Tory-controlled local authority, to the closure of St. James hospital? If public opinion is to mean anything, is it not time that the Wandsworth health authority took note of what the people of Wandsworth are saying and of their desire to keep this hospital open?

Photo of Mrs Edwina Currie Mrs Edwina Currie , South Derbyshire

As regards procedures, the porposal to close St. James was agreed at the district health authority meeting on 27 November. It has not yet reached the South West Thames regional health authority, which will consider it on 28 January. If the region, the district and the CHC disagree, it will come to Ministers for consideration. That is the appropriate procedure.

As regards what the Wandsworth health authority is getting up to and local approval or disapproval of it, will the local people also disapprove of the £17 million to be spent on St. George's hospital, including £800,000 for the accident and emergency departments?

Photo of Mr Alfred Dubs Mr Alfred Dubs , Battersea

Does the Minister agree that there is enormous pressure on hospital places, both in the Wandsworth area and in south London in general, and that this, combined with the inability of the Department of Health and Social Services to predict the extra places that will be needed as a result of a likely increase in the number of AIDS patients, makes it irresponsible to consider the closure of a major hospital at this stage?

Photo of Mrs Edwina Currie Mrs Edwina Currie , South Derbyshire

The difficulty, as I understand it, is that St. James will need a very substantial sum of money spent on it very soon—about £12 million. The question is whether London patients are better served by spending money on an old hospital that might not suit their needs much longer or spending it on developing new and expanded services elsewhere in the same district.