HC Deb 09 December 1963 vol 686 cc19-20
11. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Minister of Health what is the approximate average waiting time for out patients attending the London teaching hospitals; and if he will impress on the management boards concerned the continual need for inspection of the procedures they adopt for out-patient attendance.

Mr. Braine

I am afraid that it is not practicable to calculate such a figure. The answer to the second part of the Question is, "Yes, Sir".

Mr. Smith

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that recently I received a complaint from a woman who was kept waiting for two and a half hours in the out-patient department of a certain London hospital? On inquiry I found that this was in no way exceptional. Indeed, there are delays of two hours or more in most London hospitals. Would my hon. Friend impress on the management committees concerned that their otherwise admirable service is falling down very badly at out-patient level?

Mr. Braine

I appreciate very much the point my hon. Friend is making. I can assure him that we are just as anxious as he is to eliminate undue waiting time for out-patients, both for appointments and at the hospital. There would not be any advantage in trying to establish an average waiting time. I am sure my hon. Friend would agree that it is particular sources of complaint and not average performance that need to be tackled. I am prepared vigorously to pursue any instance of undue waiting that is brought to my notice.

Mr. K. Robinson

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary aware that, confirming what the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Dudley Smith) has said, there are at least indications that the London teaching hospitals are amongst the worst offenders in this respect? Has his Department considered recommending to hospital authorities the automatic monitoring system for out-patient departments which has been used experimentally in the Cardiff Royal Infirmary, with promising results which are described in the current issue of the Journal of Medical Care?

Mr. Braine

Yes. We are always alive to what it is necessary to do to keep the hospital authorities up to the mark. We cannot continuously lecture them on the subject. On the other hand, the kind of suggestion the hon. Gentleman has made is one that my right hon. Friend will bear in mind when next considering the issue of a hospital memorandum or some other guidance.

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