Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 12:43 pm on 19th March 1997.
I shall say in the course of my remarks.
The hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, be the first to recognise the particular importance of the project. East Ayrshire contains areas of considerable socio-economic deprivation and unemployment, and relatively poor health. All the parties involved with the project have recognised from the outset that the development of health services in the area must take proper account of that. Health care must target resources on the areas of local need. The new community hospital will therefore be sited at Cumnock in order to provide the easiest possible access to the largest possible proportion of the area's population.
The proposals are built on the concept of locally provided, patient-centred care, in terms of both service delivery and building design. It will be a primary care-focused service, offering integrated care for the locality. The hospital will include a 24-bed general practice unit—doubling the current complement in the area—24 day hospital places, out-patient services, and 50 continuing care and respite care places.
People will be able to receive the care that they need as close to their homes as possible. That is a model for future NHS services: local people deciding how best to meet local needs, and working in partnership—both public and private—to produce innovative and imaginative schemes. I therefore welcome this opportunity to pay tribute to all those who have played a part in bringing this project so close to fruition.