HC Deb 09 May 1966 vol 728 cc27-8
37. Sir E. Errington

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the smear tests at Farnham Hospital to screen women patients for cancer of the cervix are being discontinued for lack of funds; and whether he will make available sufficient funds to continue these tests, in view of the value of this service to the women living in Aldershot and district.

Mr. Loughlin

A service is available through gynaecologists and the family planning Clinic. The facilities for examining smears are to be expanded in the main centre at Guildford by the recruitment of an additional technician.

Sir E. Errington

Does the Parliamentary Secretary realise that an economy of something like £800 has been made and that the result of people having to travel greater distances is that many are under the impression that the service has been abandoned completely?

Mr. Loughlin

I am glad of this opportunity to give an assurance that the service has not been abandoned completely. The Farnham Hospital has been overloaded to some extent, largely because of the appointment of an additional gynaecologist. But it is true that the main centre for this area will be concentrated at Guildford, which will take smears from general practitioners and the Farnham Hospital.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that apart from the recent additional gynaecological consultant at Farnham, it is unlikely that Guildford will be able to provide the additional facilities that are required? Is he further aware that the Farnham Group did not ask for a fully trained technician but that in view of the extra responsibilities in urinary cytology too, it asked for a general technician who could be added to the pathological staff of the hospital for that and other purposes?

Mr. Loughlin

The regional hospital board is, of course, responsible for running this service. Guildford is considered by the board to be the best centre for the cytology service. The board intends as soon as possible—although there may be some delay because these technicians are not easily come by—to increase its staff by one technician, which will make a considerable improvement.