HC Deb 13 July 1971 vol 821 c198
14. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied wih the number of consultant gynaecologists in posts in each regional hospital board ; and if he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

It is for individual boards to consider how many consultants are necessary in any specialty, in the light of local needs and facilities, but I have already informed boards that more rapid expansion of the consultant grade as a whole is necessary : they will take account of the particular needs in this specialty where there are long waiting lists, and I have advised them that there should be no shortage of candidates for consultant posts in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Mrs. Short

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. If he will look at the figures that he was good enough to give me in a Written Answer not long ago he will see that in some regions there are only six or seven consultant gynaecologists per million of population. Those are the areas where the ratio is worst. To get continuity all over the country, is it not necessary to improve this ratio and bring it into line with the better areas where the ratio is about nine per million?

Sir K. Joseph

Yes ; the facts are as the hon. Lady has stated them, and I am sure that boards, in response to the information which I have given them, are taking these into account.

Dr. Summerskill

How many of these consultant posts are now vacant, and what steps is the Secretary of State taking to fill them?

Sir K. Joseph

I cannot tell the hon. Lady that now, but I should be glad to give that information in answer to a specific Question. I am discussing with the profession arrangements for joint forward planning of consultant medical staffing with a view to remedying disparities between different regions and different specialties.