HC Deb 13 June 1972 vol 838 cc1244-5
14. Mr. Woodhouse

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will authorise an increase in the allowance payable by regional hospital boards for kidney patients undergoing haemo-dialysis treatment at home in order to meet the cost of heating by electricity as well as the operation of the machine.

Mr. Alison

I would refer my hon. Friend to my hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. John Hannam) on 22nd February.—[Vol. 831, c. 255.]

Mr. Woodhouse

Does my hon. Friend not agree, first, that heating is necessary both for the maintenance of the kidney machine and for the comfort of the patient and that kidney patients at home are relieving the hospital services of considerable expenditure both in nursing and on technicians? On both of these grounds, is there not a case for meeting all their costs?

Mr. Alison

I think that my hon. Friend knows that hospital authorities are responsible and that they already meet the cost of electricity used for the kidney machines themselves. Of course, my Department, through the Supplementary Benefits Commission, can help in the cases of people who need extra heating allowances and have limited means.

Mr. Dalyell

What is the policy here? Are people to be encouraged to remain at home or are they to be put with other cases in already overcrowded hospitals?

Mr. Alison

The answer that I have already given, showing that hospitals not only provide home dialysis facilities but also meet the cost of electricity used in them, is an indication of the way in which we want people to be treated at home as far as possible.