§ 16. Mr. Golding
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many persons are awaiting for admission to the North Staffordshire hospitals.
§ Mr. Golding
Will the hon. Gentleman say what steps he is taking to reduce this totally unacceptable waiting list? Furthermore, will he state how many people there are on that waiting list who would have been treated earlier had they been able and willing to pay for treatment?
§ Mr. Alison
I cannot answer the last part of the supplementary question, which is hypothetical and speculative. We have so far spent £6 million in capital investment in respect of capital developments in North Staffordshire and a major district general hospital has been developed by the North Staffordshire Hospital Centre at Stoke-on-Trent. In fact, the number on the waiting list has decreased by 10 per cent. since 30th June, 1971.
§ Mrs. Knight
Will my hon. Friend also recognise the concern which exists about out-patient appointments? May I tell him that in the Midlands one recent appointment which was applied for on 28th June was not available before 13th January? Will he accept that this is a long time and try to do something about the situation?
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that one of the main reasons for the very long waiting list in North Staffordshire is the fact that a veritable private wing operates in the North Staffordshire Hospital Centre? Is this not yet another example of the massive abuse of private practice under the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board, and why does not this prompt the Minister to make an inquiry into the board's activities?