38 and 61. Mr. R. Gresham Cooke
asked the Minister of Health (1) what steps are being taken to cut down the waiting lists and time taken in dealing with surgical orthopaedic cases not arising out of accidents;
(2) what improvements are being made in the orthopaedic surgical health service so as to cater not only for the large number of accident cases but also for those requiring ordinary surgical treatment.
§ Sir B. Stross
The reduction of waiting lists and provision of earlier treatment in this and all other specialties is a major objective of the hospital service. The measures taken include reducing the length of stay in hospital in suitable cases, providing more operating theatre time, using operating theatres not fully used in other hospitals, transferring patients from consultants with long waiting lists to those with shorter lists, providing additional beds or reallocating beds from one specialty to another. A considerable increase in consultant posts in orthopaedics over the next five years was authorised on 12th November.
Mr. Gresham Cooke
I thank the Minister for that reply, but does not he agree that it is maddening for a person who wants an ordinary orthopaedic operation, such as for cartilage trouble, to be put off week after week and month after month because of stupid motoring accidents at the weekend? Would it not be possible to separate the list of accident orthopaedic cases from the list of routine orthopaedic cases in order to allow the routine ones to go forward?
§ Sir B. Stross
However stupid the accidents are, they are often terribly serious. Such cases cannot go on waiting lists but must be treated immediately, and they are. As regards cold orthopaedic surgery, I entirely agree that it must be dreadful for people to wait so long. 897 The regional hospital boards are doing all they can, but we need more orthopaedic surgeons, as I said before, and we are planning to have them. When this is accomplished, we shall, I hope, do better.