HC Deb 04 July 1955 vol 543 cc770-1
52. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Minister of Health what convalescent beds are available expressed as a percentage per thousand of the population of the Newcastle Regional Hospital Board.

Mr. Iain Macleod

At the end of 1954 there were .044 staffed convalescent and pre-convalescent beds administered by the regional hospital board available per thousand population of the region. If beds administered by the board of governors are added, the figure was .077. In addition, over 1,000 convalescent patients were sent during the year by the regional board under contractual arrangements to institutions outside the Service.

Dame Irene Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the North-East Coast thinks the present position in regard to convalescent beds is a scandal? Will he do something about it without further delay in view of the fact that at any rate he could put into operation a hospital for convalescent beds with the expenditure of very little money? Will he please get on with it?

Mr. Macleod

That is precisely what we are doing. The grant available to the Newcastle Region has gone up year by year since we came to office.

53. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Minister of Health the reason for the low bed cost in the Newcastle Regional Hospital Board's jurisdiction.

Mr. lain Macleod

Many factors may affect average patient costs, which vary not only between one region and another, but in the same region between different types of hospitals and different hospitals of the same type.

Dame Irene Ward

Yes, but is it not a fact, that our low cost per bed is due to the fact that we have not the facilities for treatment that other regions have? Although it is true my right hon. Friend is giving us some assistance, will he bear in mind that it is not nearly enough, and that that is the opinion of the North-East Coast as a whole and of the regional hospital board?

Mr. Macleod

The reasons for differing costs in different parts of the country are mainly historical, as everyone knows——

Dame Irene Ward

I am tired of history.

Mr. Macleod

Perhaps my hon. Friend takes the view that history is bunk, but what I have said is an accurate statement of fact, and what we are trying to do by the new capital programme is to take note of regions, of which Newcastle is one, which suffered in the past and give them a higher share in the programme I announced a day or two ago.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider speeding up the extra capital grant for the region, in view of the fact that it has always shown that it is fully capable of spending any money made available to it?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that I have given no undertaking this year of an extra grant.