HC Deb 25 October 1972 vol 843 cc1173-4
11. Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many regional hospital boards in Scotland have sought his advice in respect of the provision of private out-patient facilities in hospitals within their area; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education, Scottish Office (Mr. Hector Monro)

Three regional hospital boards have asked for and received authority to treat private out-patients, but only four hospitals in all are involved and these only in respect of certain, specified facilities.

Mr. Hunter

I appreciate that the number of hospitals with private out-patient facilities is minimal in Scotland, but does the hon. Gentleman agree that extension of those facilities would further worsen the position of the ordinary National Health Service patient? On occasion such patients have to wait several hours on any day to receive the treatment they require. Will the hon. Gentleman thoroughly investigate any application by any hospital to extend those services?

Mr. Monro

I assure the hon. Gentleman that when an application has been made—and only four have been made since 1968—it is investigated very carefully. I also assure him that no hardship to any other out-patient is caused. That matter is taken very carefully into consideration.

Mr. Galbraith

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that he does not think there is anything wrong in private outpatient facilities? Why should out-patients who wish to pay extra not be catered for?

Mr. John Smith

Jumping the queue.

Mr. Monro

I share the view of my hon. Friend and remind the House that the Expenditure Committee recently concluded that private practice operates to the overall benefit of the Health Service.

Mr. Carmichael

This is a very serious point. Surely the Minister cannot maintain that there is no queue jumping. Everyone is aware that there is. Will he give us an indication of the cost to the National Health Service of such special facilities? Are they paid for out of the fees paid to the consultants who allow people to jump the queue?

Mr. Monro

The hon. Gentleman must keep the matter in proportion. I said that only four hospitals had made such applications, and three of the approvals were given by the last Labour Government. Therefore I think the hon. Gentleman is making a mountain out of a molehill.

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