HC Deb 06 March 1961 vol 636 cc30-1
30. Mr. Grey

asked the Minister of Health, having regard to the increase in the number of people waiting for hospital beds in the Newcastle Region, what immediate steps he proposes to alleviate the position before the result of the proposed inquiry is made known.

Mr. Powell

I anticipate that current measures to reduce the total waiting lists in this region will be reinforced by the £1 million scheme announced in January for the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Mr. Grey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the serious position concerning hospital beds in the North-East? Is he further aware that when he announced, a few weeks ago, that there was to be an inquiry into the matter there was a certain amount of satisfaction, but that great dismay was displayed by Members for the north-east area when it was announced that the inquiry would take two years to complete? Does he not think that is a long time to take over an inquiry?

Mr. Powell

Nothing is being held up awaiting the outcome of the inquiry, the results of which, I believe, will be valuable not only in the Newcastle area but in the country generally. It is a fact that the regional hospital board's total waiting lists have been falling recently, and the factors of recruitment and bed utilisation which have been having this result should continue to have that effect, but nothing is awaiting the result of the inquiry.