HC Deb 30 June 1949 vol 466 cc1504-5
35. Sir Ian Fraser

asked the Minister of Health whether he has considered representations from hospital management committees about the cut in the hospital estimates; and whether he is satisfied that the reductions can be made without detriment to the interests of patients.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)

I have considered representations from hospital authorities about the cut in their estimates and have again made it clear that I do not desire economies to be made which would be detrimental to the interests of patients. Fresh instructions have been issued as to the basis on which the estimates for the current year should be prepared.

Sir I. Fraser

To what extent have the estimated economies been effected or are they likely to be effected?

Mr. Bevan

It is too early for me to tell that yet. I would remind the House that owing to the relationship between the beginning of the financial year and the time when the estimates have to be prepared by the hospital boards, they will actually have to prepare two sets of estimates without having a full year's experience behind them.

Mr. K. Lindsay

Does my right hon. Friend believe that it is possible to make these cuts at all without detriment to the interests of the patients?

Mr. Bevan

Then obviously the cuts cannot be made.

42. Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth

asked the Minister of Health what are the total amounts of the excess authorised in excess of the Estimates for the current year in the case of the teaching hospitals and the other hospitals, respectively; whether such excess expenditure has been reported to the Treasury in accordance with Treasury Circular No. 2/49; and what measures have been proposed in accordance with the terms of that circular in order to avoid a Supplementary Estimate.

Mr. Bevan

No approvals have yet been issued covering the maintenance expenditure of the teaching and other hospitals for the current year as I am awaiting the submission of revised estimates on the basis that there must be no closing of beds or reduction of other services essential to the care and welfare of patients. The Government expect that the revised estimates for maintenance expenditure will exceed the provision in the Estimates for this particular item. In reply to the last part of the Question, regional hospital boards and the boards of governors of teaching hospitals have been asked to exercise close financial vigilance in preparing their revised estimates and to budget only for services which they are satisfied must be brought into operation this year.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

Does that answer mean that the right hon. Gentleman has decided that there will be a Supplementary Estimate in this connection?

Mr. Bevan

I actually indicated in the earliest Debate on the Estimates that there obviously would be a Supplementary Estimate this year if there was an increase in the salaries of the nurses.