Sir George asked Patricia Hewitt, Secretray of State for Health, for an assurance that more services would be provided at Andover Hospital.
(See extract from Hansard below)
"Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): Members on both sides of the House will commend the Secretary of State's statement that we need to do more to provide more services within local communities. She must know, however, that the gravitational pull of the district general hospital, coupled with budgetary pressures, is leading to those local services leaving local communities. Andover hospital, for example, is about to lose general anaesthetics. Can she now answer the question that my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) asked: what will she do to ensure that, in her words, "community facilities that are needed for the long term are not lost in response to short-term budgetary pressures", when those pressures actually come from her Department?
Ms Hewitt: Those financial pressures come from the fact that in a few areas of the country, there has been over-spending on NHS budgets, even at a time when, year on year, the NHS is receiving more money than ever before, including in north-west Hampshire. As well as publishing the White Paper, I am ensuring that primary care trusts that are considering the closure of community facilities, and particularly community hospitals, review those in the light of the clear strategy that we have spelled out in the White Paper to ensure that they have the facilities that will be needed as more services are moved out of acute hospitals into the community. That is not only better for patients, which must be our No.1 concern, but provides better value for money. "
I am afraid that Patricia Hewitt's answer in the House did not explain where the money was going to come from. The campaign for more services to be provided locally will go on.