To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the review of United Kingdom secondary medical care in the armed forces has now been completed; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Archie Hamilton
The review of future requirements for secondary care in the armed forces has now been completed. It confirmed that the primary purpose of military hospital beds was to train armed forces medical services personnel for their roles in war. It concluded that around 1,500 hospital beds will be required in the United Kingdom. We aim to provide 1,100 to 1,200 of these in service hospitals and the remainder in wards staffed by armed forces personnel in NHS hospitals, subject to discussions with the NHS authorities concerned. There would then be a requirement for only four service hospitals in the United Kingdom.
Our aim in these discussions will be to examine the feasibility of establishing wards manned by armed forces personnel in hospitals in Salisbury and East Anglia, and at Plymouth, where such discussions are already in hand. we shall also be exploring the possibility of co-operating with the NHS in Catterick. In the light of the outcome of these discussions, we would aim to modernise and possibly extend the existing facilities in the service hospitals at Gosport, Aldershot and Wroughton. We would no longer require the service hospitals at Woolwich and Halton; or at Plymouth where we are well on the way towards establishing the joint venture with the NHS.
It is too soon to be certain of the implications for employment at the hospitals concerned but every effort will be made to reduce redundancies to a minimum and ensure offsetting employment wherever possible. We shall now consult the trades unions on details of our plans.