HC Deb 09 May 1972 vol 836 cc1105-6
3. Mr. Ashton

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he intends to take following the Expenditure Committee Report on pay beds in hospitals; and whether he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

I am considering the report and shall be replying to it in due course.

Mr. Ashton

Will the Secretary of State take notice of the fact that we have a situation where consultants are organising the queue for operations and people can jump that queue if they are prepared to pay? Will he also take notice that the report shows that people have to wait on average 18 months for a tonsillectomy under the National Health Service whereas they have to wait only two weeks if they are prepared to pay?

Sir K. Joseph

The House is aware that the Government take seriously the length of waiting lists in many parts of the country. This is a subject on which I hope to make a statement later this year.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the subject of pay beds in the National Health Service is highly controversial among not only members of the Expenditure Committee and hon. Members but people outside this House? Will he ensure that the report is not shelved, that we shall have an early debate on this important subject in Government time, and that the Government will make quite clear their policy towards private beds in the National Health Service?

Sir K. Joseph

The question of a debate is not for me. I believe that there are infinitely more important matters for the benefit of patients than this issue, on which I have already made my position abundantly clear.