Community Care

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:12 pm on 22nd February 1995.

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Photo of Tommy Graham Tommy Graham , Renfrew West and Inverclyde 2:12 pm, 22nd February 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met the chairmen and chief executives of NHS trusts to discuss matters relating to care in the community.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

My noble and learned Friend the Minister of State met the chairmen of national health service trusts on 20 January to discuss a range of issues including care in the community. The chief executive of the NHS in Scotland held one of his periodic meetings with chief executives of NHS trusts yesterday.

Photo of Tommy Graham Tommy Graham , Renfrew West and Inverclyde

The Secretary of State will be aware of the proposals to close Ravenscraig, Dykebar, Merchiston and Bridge of Weir hospitals in my constituency and the constituencies of other hon. Members. He will also be aware of the concern felt by many of the parents and relatives of patients in those hospitals. They are very worried. Therefore, will the Secretary of State support vigorously the Carers (Recognition and Service) Bill which will have its Second Reading on 3 March? Will he guarantee that Ministers will back it completely to ensure that thousands of hard-pressed carers receive the service and support from the Government that they need and rightly deserve?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I shall certainly study the terms of the Bill to which the hon. Gentleman refers. The Government's policy of care in the community has been widely welcomed as being a considerable advance in that area. The possible closures to which the hon. Gentleman refers, and any such proposal, would be subject to widespread consultation and any proposed closure of a hospital would come to me. I would ensure that all proposals were given the most careful scrutiny possible, taking account not only of any planned closures, but any planned extensions and developments.

Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr

Does my right hon. Friend agree that devolving the responsibility of funding for the care of the elderly in residential and nursing homes to local authorities has discriminated against private nursing and residential homes?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I hope that that is not so. If my hon. Friend has any examples that he can bring to my attention, I shall certainly ensure that they are examined. What matters is providing the best possible care for the individuals concerned at the most cost-effective price to taxpayers, who are, after all, funding the programme to the extent of many millions of pounds. It is important that all agencies involved—local authorities, health boards, the private sector, the voluntary sector, Scottish Homes and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities—work together on an inter-agency basis, and we have given them guidance to that effect.

Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray

Given the importance attached to the link between social services and health services in guaranteeing the delivery of care in the community, does the Secretary of State accept that there must be confidence among members of the community in those who are charged with ensuring the delivery of the service? What action is being taken by the Scottish Office with respect to Moray health services trust board and the as yet unexplained resignation of the chief executive and two non-executive directors?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

That is essentially a matter for the board, but if the hon. Lady has any anxieties that she would like to bring to the attention of myself or my noble Friend the Minister for Health, we shall look into them. To answer her general question—yes, I have confidence in the way in which the general policy is being delivered.

Photo of Mr George Robertson Mr George Robertson Shadow Secretary of State

On the subject of health and care in the community, is the Secretary of State aware that the Government propose that, under the framework document on Northern Ireland published this morning, those subjects will be the responsibility of a legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland? Are not the Government revealing the stark contrast and double standards in their position when they offer a legislative Assembly to Northern Ireland but, despite its special features, they offer nothing to Scotland? Now that the Government have conceded the key principle that devolution inside the United Kingdom is perfectly compatible with a reformed constitution how can they, with any credibility, continue to attack Labour's plans for a devolved legislature for Scotland?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should be so keen to fall so far below the level of events. If the hon. Gentleman cannot understand the differences between the circumstances in Scotland and Northern Ireland—with its history and traditions, and the great issues at stake in the Prime Minister's initiative announced today—he has much homework still to do.