HC Deb 16 July 1968 vol 768 cc1227-8
17. Mr. Fisher

asked the Minister of Health if he will state the latest available comparable differences in cost per bed per week between the most expensive and the least expensive hospitals, assuming that the type and quality of care is approximately the same in each.

Mr. K. Robinson

Figures of cost per patient week even for hospitals of similar types are not directly comparable, as the range of services and treatment provided vary from hospital to hospital. Costs are also influenced by such factors as the availability of staff, and the size, age and condition of buildings.

Mr. Fisher

Could the right hon. Gentleman give a rough estimate of the differences that he can compute? Does he agree that they are at least partly due to the non-competitive environment in the National Health Service? Can any steps be taken to reduce the differences in the least efficient hospitals and make them more efficient?

Mr. Robinson

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman means by a "non-competitive environment". A multiplicity of factors accounts for differences in cost per patient week in hospitals whose functions are broadly similar. I am constantly urging hospital authorities to bring about more efficient use of beds, and we have achieved a good deal of progress here. I do not think that any figure I could quote in answer to the hon. Gentleman's question would be anything but misleading.