HC Deb 09 May 1966 vol 728 cc28-9
38. Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Minister of Health if he will make special financial provisions available to regional hospital boards so that the cervical cytology service can be expanded.

Mr. K. Robinson

I have asked regional hospital boards to give special consideration to the development of this service. I have not earmarked special funds for this purpose in my allocations to boards since it is for them to decide how their revenue allocations, which are reviewed and increased each year, should be spent.

Mrs. Butler

In view of the growing importance of preventive medicine, would it not greatly assist the regional hospital boards if the Minister made a special allocation for all forms of preventive medicine, including screening for cervical cancer? Is it not a fact that the present financial allocation makes it impossible for all women at risk from cervical cancer to get tests and he treated to prevent this horrible disease?

Mr. Robinson

No, Sir. I would not accept the latter part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. As she knows, the key to the further expansion of this service rests in the training of staff. Very good progress is being made here and, for example, by the end of last December 380 technicians had been specially trained in cytology compared with 150 12 months before. If I were to make a special allocation to boards for preventive health purposes I would have to reduce their allocations for other purposes. I think that it is best to leave the distribution of their resources to the boards themselves.

Dame Joan Vickers

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, how is it possible that some voluntary organisations, such as the one I run, are able to give this service when his Ministry cannot? Is he aware that we can find technicians who are able to give this service when women need this attention?

Mr. Robinson

I know there are one or two voluntary services in progress, but it is very important that this service should be developed in association with hospital pathological laboratories.