§ 4. Mr. Dempsey
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many private beds in National Health Service hospitals are vacant; and what is the waiting list for National Health Service beds at the latest available date.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Will some of the beds which are reserved for private use be made available to urgent cases on the waiting list for National Health Service beds? Will the Minister give an undertaking that urgent medical attention will be given to these patients, if necessary by the use of private beds?
§ Mr. Carmichael
The Minister will be aware that the figure of 51.000 on the waiting list is disturbing. Will he amplify his answer by telling us the average length of time for which people are on the waiting list for particular types of treatment?
§ Mr. Monro
All hon. Members are glad to see the hon. Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael) back in the House. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I could not without notice give a break-down on the length of time people are on waiting lists, but there is an improving trend in the figures—which are still high—since they have dropped from 55,000 in 1969 to 51,000 last year. The Government are well aware of the importance of the provision of a larger number of beds, and this is why the hospital expenditure programme has increased by £28 million for 1973–74 as compared with the figure for 1969–70.