As part of its strategic objectives for improving the pattern of acute hospital services in Liverpool, the Liverpool health authority has drawn up plans to transfer to the Royal Liverpool hospital-Liverpool Royal infirmary site, ophthalmic services at present provided by St. Paul's eye hospital.
The population of Merseyside and, indeed, of the north-west region will regard the Minister's remarks this afternoon as an absolute disgrace in terms of patient care. The hospital has a national reputation and has served the region for many years. The Minister's remarks are indicative of the way in which the Government are treating the National Health Service. They give assurances about the service being safe in their hands, but the reality is that people are dying, hospitals and beds are closing and people are waiting for years for treatment. That is how the Government treat the Health Service that was built up by the Labour Government.
The hon. Gentleman's original question was about St. Paul's eye hospital. That is an old building, built in 1912, with no scope for further development. It is in rather poor condition, and the health authority proposes to re-provide all the beds in more modern facilities.
That seems possible. In common with other regions, one of the difficulties that Merseyside faces is that of ensuring a proper distribution of its services. That is something that we have tried to help it with through the so-called bridging fund.