§ 18. Mrs. Renée Short
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many hospitals of national standing and importance are to be closed as a result of cuts in Government expenditure.
§ Mr. Ennals
The funds available for health authority services in England have increased in real terms from year to year. Suggestions for the closure of hospitals are, however, brought forward by health authorities for a variety of reasons. Authorities are required to submit to my Department, by early next year, plans for the rationalisation and development of their services over the next 10–15 years, 91W and these plans are currently the subject of local consultations. Suggestions made in the plans are not firm proposals for immediate action, but are options which need further study. This early consultation gives a full opportunity for the possibilities to be discussed, not only by the authorities concerned but also by the public and staff who would be affected.
§ Mr. Ennals
My policy is set out in the consultative document on priorities for health and personal social services in England which described the provision of district general hospitals, supported by smaller hospitals called community hospitals, to cater for patients who do not need or who no longer need the specialised services of a district general hospital.