HC Deb 25 May 1954 vol 528 cc187-9
16. Miss Herbison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many tuberculosis consultants there are for the County of Lanark.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)

Two consultants and nine senior hospital medical officers are employed whole-time as tuberculosis physicians for the county of Lanark. This does not include staff engaged on thoracic surgery at Hairmyres Hospital, mostly on tuberculous patients.

Miss Herbison

Is the Minister aware that certain members of Lanarkshire County Council have expressed great concern about the lack of sufficient consultants for tuberculosis patients? Is he further aware that the figure given to us for Glasgow was one for over 200,000 population and in Lanarkshire it was one for over 500,000? Is the Minister satisfied that the figures he has given are sufficient for the great population in Lanarkshire?

Mr. Stuart

I have been into this matter, and I am informed that, in the view of the regional hospital board and of the Department, the present number is adequate, but I will certainly bear the hon. Lady's question in mind.

Mr. Patrick Maitland

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this matter causes great anxiety in Lanarkshire, and that in regard to Hairmyres in particular there are all sorts of projects for expanding their work on which they would like to embark if they could get sufficient support? Will he bear that in mind?

Mr. Woodburn

Is it not the case that the difficulty arises through a large number of people coming from Lanarkshire into Glasgow for treatment? Is it not the policy of the hospital board to try to decentralise this hospital treatment as far as possible and so relieve waiting and other difficulties which arise both in Edinburgh and Glasgow?

Mr. Stuart

Yes, Sir, I agree with the right hon. Member and will see that these points are brought to the attention of the board.

17. Miss Herbison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many tubercular patients in the area of the Western Regional Hospital Board are awaiting lung operations; how long have they to wait; what are the causes of the delay; and what steps he is taking to shorten the waiting period.

Mr. J. Stuart

The regional hospital board report a waiting list of 404 patients. The maximum period of waiting is at present nine months. The scope of thoracic surgery has expanded considerably in recent years, and there is a nation-wide shortage of thoracic surgeons. Additional nurses for this work are also needed. Besides arranging for fuller use of the existing surgical units in the region, two of which have been opened only within the last 18 months, the regional board plan to bring two additional units into commission shortly.

Miss Herbison

Although the answer shows that improvements have taken place, would the Minister agree that the waiting time of nine months for a tuberculosis patient to have a lung operation is still far too long? Could he not take further steps to provide facilities which could cut down the waiting time very considerably?

Mr. Stuart

I have also looked into this question, and have consulted those with medical knowledge and experience. I am informed that thoracic surgery is a rapidly expanding treatment which, in the 1920s, was practically unknown. No doubt it will continue to expand, and I agree with the hon. Lady that we shall have to take steps to meet this new problem.

18. Mr. Timmons

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has considered the information brought to his attention by the hon. Member for Bothwell, about certain abuses in the health services; and what steps he proposes to take to deal with the matter.

Mr. J. Stuart

The hon. Member wrote to me about statements made at a meeting of Lanarkshire County Council. Three private patients in pay beds have had thoracic operations in Lanarkshire this year but this in no way affected the waiting time of National Health Service patients, of whom 171 were operated upon. I know of no abuses, but, if the hon. Member knows of any, I hope he will let me know.

Mr. Timmons

I suppose the right hon. Gentleman will be aware of the unanimous decision taken by Lanarkshire County Council on 12th May, when three chairmen of hospital boards of management supported the contention that there were abuses because of those who can very well afford to pay £120 down? Is he aware that only this week-end I came across the case of a relative of mine who paid £120 for an operation, and in a matter of a couple of months he was out of the hospital?

Mr. Stuart

I know from Press reports that the county council decided to ask for an inquiry into the tuberculosis service in the county. I am not yet aware of the results, but I will certainly watch it.

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