§ 39. Brigadier Rayner
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that under his regulations the future weekly charge for private rooms at Moretonhampstead Cottage Hospital will be, without medical attendance, 17 guineas, and with such attendance £26 8s., and at Bovey Tracey Cottage Hospital, without medical attendance, 15 guineas and with such attendance, £19 12s.; and whether he will authorise a reduction in these charges.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)
These charges have been calculated in accordance with the requirements of the National Health Service Act, to cover the whole cost of the accommodation and services provided, and I have no power to reduce them.
§ Brigadier Rayner
Will the right hon. Gentleman do something about it? Does he realise that in many of these small cottage hospitals, offering very few amenities, they have to charge more than the London Clinic; that a great many old people want to have extra privacy and are quite able to pay reasonably for it, but cannot afford these fantastic prices: and does he know that doctors, nurses and patients are absolutely fed up with the whole business as regards private rooms?
§ Brigadier Rayner
In view of the bankrupt nature of the Hospital Service, can the right hon. Gentleman afford to lose the revenue from these private rooms?
Mr. Wilson Harris
Does not the Act already provide that any patient needing a private room for medical reasons will get it over the head of anybody else, and is it not a rather unfortunate position as a result of this Act that these very high prices should be charged?
§ Mr. Bevan
The hon. Member confuses the situation. There are two types of accommodation in hospitals for which a charge is made. There is the amenity bed for which one only has to pay for the privacy, and there is the other where one has to pay for the surgeon and the medical service if one insists upon having surgeons of a particular kind. In most hospitals it is now possible to have both. In this hospital to which reference is made, if the beds are empty, they are made available to persons who need them urgently.