§ 54. Mr. Randall
asked the Minister of Health if he will state the number of geriatric beds in the Gateshead and District Hospital Management Committee; and how this compares with the average for the region.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Edith Pitt)
One hundred and eighteen. This is 0.7 per 1,000 of the population, compared with 0.98 in the Region as a whole. Forty-one additional beds should be available by the end of the year, raising the ratio to 0.94.
§ Mr. Randall
Will the hon. Lady agree that the number of beds referred to is lower than the average for the region? If it is, will she say why this should be so? Does it not, in effect, mean a greater cost put upon the ratepayers of the local authority, a burden which they ought not to bear and which ought to be set against the National Exchequer because it is a national service?
§ Miss Pitt
The problem of caring for the old, is, of course, a joint problem for both the hospital authorities and the local authorities. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that, where old people can be kept in their own homes, that is certainly the best answer. It is true that there has been a shortage in the area in which the hon. Gentleman is interested. There will be an improvement when the 41 additional beds come into use. In the meantime, the waiting list has been reduced. It is now only six. For the same quarter of 1959 and 1958, respectively, it was 25 and 34. I should add that all the cases were women.