To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will take urgent measures to ensure the reopening of Maidstone general hospital to cases other than emergencies and malignancies;
(2) if he will make a statement about the decision of the Maidstone district health authority to close the Maidstone general hospital to all admissions except emergencies and malignancies.
§ Mrs. Currie
[holding answer 9 November 1987]: Health authorities are expected to manage within their cash limits. Maidstone health authority is a resource allocation working party gaining health district, but increased demand since 1983 following the opening of the new Maidstone hospital has outstripped all expectations.
The district has taken steps to contain expenditure this year which, among other measures, include the temporary closure of four wards and a freeze on staff vacancies.
The South-East Thames regional health authority and Maidstone health authority are discussing the situation to ascertain what further steps may be needed to ensure a satisfactory resolution of the difficulties.