§ 6. Mr. W. Yates
asked the Minister of Health in view of the designation of the new town of Dawley, what discussions he has had with the new town corporation and The Wrekin Hospital authorities concerning the need for a new maternity hospital unit at The Wrekin Hospital, taking into account that the maternity services in the area cannot stand the strain of the additional population due to arrive in the new town.
§ Mr. Barber
Discussions have already been held between Officers of the regional hospital board and the development corporation; further population estimates are now awaited from the corporation so as to assess the need for additional maternity and other hospital facilities.
§ Mr. Yates
I thank the Minister for that reply for the moment. Does he realise that his predecessor visited the area six months ago and that already the medical practitioners' committee in the area have said that the situation is getting such that they cannot manage? How muchlonger have we to wait before we can have a reply about the maternity unit? Will it be before Christmas, or afterwards?
§ Mr. Barber
I can probably help my hon. Friend to some extent. A new maternity unit with over 80 beds, with full and continuous consultant coverage, will be the first phase of the new district general hospital at Copthorne. Building work is expected to begin next year. As for the short term, I am informed that the immediate need of The Wrekin Hospital is not additional maternity beds. In fact, bed occupancy at 19 this unit has been on average only about two-thirds during the past two years.