HC Deb 16 July 1953 vol 517 cc2241-2
38. Mr. R. J. Taylor

asked the Minister of Health how many patients there are in the Newcastle Hospital Regional area awaiting thoracic surgical operation; and for what length of time the patients have been waiting for an operation.

Mr. Iain Macleod

About 1,100. The average waiting time is from six to 12 months.

Mr. Taylor

What action has the right hon. Gentleman in mind to reduce the waiting time, because it is causing great distress to parents and other relatives of the patients?

Mr. Macleod

The waiting time is being steadily reduced. In 1950, for example, it was up to two years. The numbers on the waiting list are increasing, but that is not, on the whole, a bad sign because the modern tendency in this field is towards surgery, and the discovery of new drugs has meant that more patients are in a condition in which surgery can be done. There are difficulties at Seaham, which, I think, the hon. Gentleman knows about, but I believe that they are being overcome. They are mostly caused by shortage of nursing staff.