HC Deb 16 July 1968 vol 768 c1228
18. Mr. Fisher

asked the Minister of Health if he will state the latest available differences between individual hospitals in the length of stay in hospital after comparable operations.

Mr. K. Robinson

I regret that this information is not available centrally.

Mr. Fisher

Has the Minister read a study in the Lancet showing that, for instance, in the case of a hernia operation discharge after one day seems quite as satisfactory as after six days? If that is so, can he estimate the annual extra cost to the National Health Service of often unnecessarily long hospitalisation?

Mr. Robinson

The extra cost is considerable, but these are clinical decisions. It is not for the Minister to tell doctors how long their patients should stay in hospital. But I call their attention to the savings that can be achieved if they find themselves able to discharge their patients earlier.

Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan

Does the Minister agree that there is a very strong argument for something like the medical audit such as is done in the American hospitals?

Mr. Robinson

There are advantages and disadvantages in a medical audit, but I am always ready to consider any suggestion by the right hon. Gentleman.