HC Deb 29 April 1975 vol 891 cc225-6
13. Mr. Gow

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average delay in obtaining non-urgent surgical, radiotherapy and orthopaedic treatment in Eastbourne; and what steps she is taking to reduce that delay.

Dr. Owen

The average delay in obtaining an appointment for non-urgent surgical treatment is 28 weeks and that for orthopaedic treatment is 26 weeks. There is no delay in obtaining radiotherapy treatment. Health authorities are aware of the need to reduce waiting lists and are constantly looking for ways of doing so.

Mr. Gow

Is the Minister aware that the last part of his answer is inaccurate and that there is substantial delay in obtaining X-ray treatment in Eastbourne, evidence of which I will supply to him afterwards? Will he please tell the House what steps he is taking to reduce these delays?

Dr. Owen

There may be a misunderstanding between us about X-rays and radiotherapy. There may be a delay on X-rays but there is not on radiotherapy. If I am wrong and there are delays in radiotherapy treatment I shall look into it, because radiotherapy is often used in the treatment of cancer patients and delays would be most serious.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Is my hon. Friend aware that at a large hospital just inside my constituency out-patients are being given appointments for 1977? Does not that make total nonsense of the National Health Service? Will my hon. Friend draw to the attention of consultants that people require a service from their hospitals?

Dr. Owen

I share my hon. Friend's concern. During the recent industrial disruption by consultants a number of people were given appointments for such ludicrous dates as that. I hope, now that the dispute is largely over, that consultants and all the other people who work in the National Health Service will do everything they can to reduce waiting lists.

This year the Government have, exceptionally, made available£5 million which is specially earmarked for reducing waiting lists and tackling bottlenecks in the provision of facilities which require capital.