HC Deb 09 May 1960 vol 623 cc18-20
22 and 23. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health (1) if he is aware that half the women patients and one quarter of the men patients in the general medical wards of the Barrow and Furness Hospitals were there for other than clinical reasons, and that, if clinically unnecessary admissions were excluded from hospitals throughout the country as a whole, a ratio of 23 beds per 1,000 population would be sufficient instead of the present national average of 3.1 per 1,000; and if he will state the cost to the National Health Service of the .8 per 1,000 beds occupied by such clinically redundant patients; and

(2) if he is aware that the admission rate to hospital amongst the general practitioners in Barrow-in-Furness varies from 61.7 per 1,000 patients per year to 107.9 per 1,000 patients per year without there being any apparent reason for such discrepancies; and what further inquiry he proposes to make with a view to ascertaining if such a wide range of discrepancy exists in the country as a whole in regard to the practice of doctors in hospitalising their patients.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to a Report published recently for the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust. Ratios calculated for one small area cannot be assumed to be valid for the whole country. While the Report brought to light a number of points that require careful consideration, in present circumstances the rate of hospital admissions is necessarily and properly dependent to some extent on social factors. Until other studies in this series on the demand for medical care in various areas have been completed, I think it would be unwise to seek to draw any general conclusions.

Dr. Johnson

May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend, however, in view of these rather startling figures, to press forward with researches in other parts of the country? Is he aware that his Answer to my first Question is a notional figure of something like £30 million to £40 million a year? In view of that, will he take a personal interest in this matter, preferably avoiding the appointment of any form of committee to study it?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am very interested in the question of seeking to reduce the number of cases which have to be dealt with in hospital, provided they can satisfactorily be dealt with in the community. On the question of the studies, we have several other studies in progress which should give us a more comprehensive picture of the national position as a whole.