Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th June 1993.

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Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East 12:00 am, 9th June 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met the chairman of the lothian health board to discuss the plan for a major new teaching hospital to replace the Edinburgh royal infirmary.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

Officials of the Scottish Office Home and Health Department regularly discuss the provision of hospital services with lothian health board and keep Ministers fully informed. Policy on the provision of acute hospitals in Edinburgh is primarily a matter for the board, subject to public consultation and the approval of my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

But since it is two years since the lothian health board decided to replace the Royal with a major new teaching hospital in the south of Edinburgh; since a site has already been acquired, why are the Government still not giving the go-ahead for investment? Is the Minister aware that we need not only a new hospital but a major new medical school? Will we get an early and positive decision on this or will the Government sabotage Edinburgh's reputation as an international centre of excellence for medical teaching and research?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I do not agree with the hon. Member's analysis of the present situation. Perhaps I can put it in context for him. The board consulted widely on the delivery of acute services in Edinburgh, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), then Secretary of State, endorsed the outline conclusions in autumn 1989, including the teaching hospital in the south-east of Edinburgh and the substantial rebuilding of Edinburgh Royal, as the hon. Gentleman has said. The board is currently and sensibly reviewing that strategy against the background, for example, of the dramatic changes being experienced in the delivery of patient care.

I cannot anticipate the outcome of the board's review. However, I can tell the hon. Member that I have no reason to believe that a new teaching hospital will not figure in any new proposals that will be put to Ministers.

Photo of Mr Eric Clarke Mr Eric Clarke , Midlothian

I am very surprised at the Minister's answer because, in consultation with my colleagues and hon. Members representing the lothian region, the hospital board told us that this hospital is a keystone because there will be only three major hospitals left—St. John's in livingston, the Western general and this one that is not even built yet. The alternative is to close down about seven other hospitals, with the exception of the sick children's. If we know that, the Minister should know that. I would like to know when he will give the go-ahead for this particular hospital.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not hear exactly what I said, which was that I cannot anticipate the outcome of the review, but I have no reason to believe that a new teaching hospital will not figure in the new proposals. The revised strategy will require ministerial consent. That will be given only if we are satisfied that the proposed changes will lead to a better standard of care and will, therefore, be in the interests of patients. There will, of course, be an opportunity for public consultation when the proposals are known. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are welcome to have full meetings with my right hon. Friend on the details.