§ 8. Mr. Raphael Tuck
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she can give some assurance as to when phase 3 or a modified phase 3 of the development of the Watford General Hospital will proceed.
§ Dr. Owen
The North West Thames Regional Health Authority is reassessing its priorities for 1976–77 and beyond, following the recent reduction in capital available to the National Health Service. It is not yet known when a further major development at Watford will be fitted into a revised programme.
§ Mr. Tuck
Phase 3 is not new. It is about 15 years old. Is my hon. Friend aware of the large waiting lists for both operations and X-rays, the shortage of medical beds, and the need for improved out-patient facilities, all of which are causing great concern in Watford? Can he give me any advice on the matter? Have we not got our priorities wrong? I was delighted to see Her Majesty pressing the button to start oil flowing from the North Sea yesterday, but did it have to cost £500,000 for that to be done, as was said on television? Would not the money have been better used if it had been spent on Watford Hospital?
§ Dr. Owen
Everyone has his own expenditure priorities. The health authorities know their present allocations and the allocations that they can expect. They are bound to look for cost-saving redesigns and means of dividing developments into small stages in reviewing the whole of their present capital programme.