HC Deb 07 May 1973 vol 856 cc3-4
2. Nicholas Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if it is the usual practice of the Welsh Hospital Board to restrict the place of residence of consultants to within 10 miles of their place of work.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. David Gibson-Watt)

The model form of contract for consultants and medical assistants recommended by the Welsh Office and agreed by the profession requires their private residences to be not more than 10 miles by road from their base hospital. There is, however, power for the Welsh Hospital Board to authorise a greater distance than this.

Mr. Edwards

As Professor Gray, the board's adviser, has recommended to the Welsh Hospital Board that the new paediatric consultant in West Wales should spend more than half his working time in Haverfordwest and that the medical beds should be provided there, would it not be perverse and foolish rigidly to insist that he lives within 10 miles of Carmarthen? As my hon. Friend has undertaken to look at this whole matter, will he give a categoric assurance that no contract will be entered into which could prejudice his examination of it?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I can certainly give that general assurance. It is open to the consultant to apply to the board for a variation of his contract in this respect. In his report, Professor Gray recommended that in the long term there should be four paediatric consultants and in the long term it is still the intention of the Welsh Hospital Board for one to come within this area.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

Is it not of crucial importance that consultants in the basic specialties should be so located that in no area in Wales is it necessary for patients and their families to travel inordinate distances, whereas in Mid-Wales this is not the case as regards the specialties of paediatrics and ENT?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

As the hon. Gentleman knows very well, the problem in Wales is sparsity of population over a large geographical area. As the result of a decision taken by the Department on 5th April this year, a paediatrician is to be appointed at Aberystwyth. That will put it well above the national average in this respect.