§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mrs. Edwina Currie)
I have received one letter from a member of the public. The Peterborough area will soon see the opening of a second new district general hospital at a cost of £13 million providing nearly 300 extra beds. As a result, the hospital authorities are now looking at plans which may involve a change of use for the county hospital at Doddington. That hospital currently provides acute services, but may in future become a community hospital, providing much-needed services for psychiatric and psychogeriatric patients in the area.
§ Mr. Freud
I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, but will she confirm that consultant cover will continue at Doddington hospital, as it is much appreciated by local doctors? Will she also bear in mind that my population of 65-year-olds is rising by 15 per cent. and that of 75-year-olds by 18 per cent. and consequently ensure that hospital facilities are available for people close to their homes? Will she also give her help to the primary health care teams that are desperately needed in a place with so little public transport?
§ Mrs. Currie
Yes, Mr. Speaker. I can confirm that the out-patient services, which cover several of the types of specialties which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, such as general surgery, gynaecology, trauma orthopaedics, and so on, will continue and consultant cover will continue for them. I can also confirm that the figures for the growth in the elderly population in that neighbourhood are correct, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will confirm his interest in that matter as I believe that within the next 10 years he will be joining that group and therefore, like many of us, wishes to see services for the elderly improve.