Baby Units

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th June 1991.

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Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West 12:00 am, 18th June 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on special care baby units in the NHS in each of the last two years.

Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley Minister of State (Department of Health)

Specific information on expenditure on special care baby units is not collected centrally. In 1988–89 and 1989–90—the latest years for which information is available—total estimated expenditure on maternity and paediatric services was £1,192 million and £1,251 million.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

Will the Minister persuade the Bradford hospital trust to stop the planned closure of the special care baby unit at St. Luke's hospital in Bradford? If the unit closes, more sick babies will have to be transported across Bradford city centre, or even treated in Leeds or as far away as Manchester. Will she also press the trust to review the centralisation of maternity services which would result in 6,000 babies being born each year under one roof? Lastly, will she persuade the Secretary of State for Health to stop being a wally and accusing me of scaremongering about redundancies as we now know that in Bradford there will be 250 redundancies by next April, rather than 300 over the next three years?

Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley Minister of State (Department of Health)

The hon. Gentleman is showing the thinking of neanderthal man. He takes an unreconstructed approach to how we can improve the perinatal mortality figures in Bradford. We all agree that the figures need to be improved, but we shall not do so through the reactionary holding on to jobs that is so typical of union-sponsored Labour Members of Parliament. As ever, the Transport and General Workers Union is holding on to its own. The hon. Gentleman should think of his constituents, not of his trade union. He should think of the health of the nation and the strategy for health. In his area the general practitioner list size has fallen by 500 over the past 10 years. The hon. Gentleman should look to health visitors, midwives and community services, not merely to hospital provision. The role of the district and its purchasing function is to make sure that the figures, about which we all share concern, are brought down.

Photo of Mrs Elizabeth Peacock Mrs Elizabeth Peacock , Batley and Spen

How many low birthweight babies now survive the most crucial first four weeks of their life?

Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley Minister of State (Department of Health)

Ninety per cent. of low birthweight babies now survive their first four weeks of life. We have had the most dramatic improvement in perinatal mortality figures. Indeed, we beat the World Health Organisation targets for Europe and, of course, the general targets, too. We now wish to make sure that some of the regional variations are dealt with better because although in some parts of the country the figures are excellent, others lag behind. That is the result of a complex series of matters.