§ Mr. Gapes
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assumptions she makes about the effect on neighbouring units of a closure of an accident and emergency unit; how that effect is assessed; and what degree of co-operation is expected from neighbouring units affected by a proposed closure of such a unit.
§ Mr. Sackville
Local health authorities plan the provision of accident and emergency services, based on existing patterns of treatment and assessments of future need. Closure of an accident and emergency department is only agreed where it can be demonstrated that there will be a net gain in the effectiveness and efficiency in patient services. It is for the appropriate health authority to undertake an assessment of the impact on surrounding hospitals, and to ensure an appropriate level of service. Only where there is no agreement locally should Ministers become involved in planning for local patient services.