HC Deb 13 December 1978 vol 960 cc651-2
14. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons were awaiting admission to geriatric and psychogeriatric hospitals at the most recent date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Harry Ewing

The figures at 31st March of this year were 1,616 and 397 respectively. The geriatric waiting list includes an unknown number of psycho-geriatric patients; and such patients may also be included in separate psychiatric waiting lists.

The major building programme provides for some 1,500 additional long-stay beds, of which about 1,100 will be for geriatric and psychogeriatric patients. In addition, health boards finance from their ordinary capital allocations smaller schemes to provide new and replacement accommodation. In the Greater Glasgow and Lothian areas, additional beds are being provided quickly in system-built units of 30 beds each, of which there will be 11 in Glasgow and four in Edinburgh.

Mr. Taylor

Does the Minister agree that there is a serious problem in regard to the waiting lists? Does he agree also that they may not tell the whole story because some people who feel that there is little chance of getting into hospital soon do not go on the normal admission lists? The medical profession takes the view that this is a desperately serious problem. Does the Minister think that it will get any better in the near future, bearing in mind the increase in the ageing population? Does he think that there is a case for a study into the nature and extent of this serious problem?

Mr. Ewing

I agree that this is a serious problem, so much so that my right hon. Friend met the Greater Glasgow Health Board within the last few weeks. We are anxious to do everything possible to solve this problem. Our discussion document "The Way Ahead ", which was designed to switch resources from the short-stay acute situation to the long-stay situation, has had an effect, and these additional replacement beds that we are providing will make the position better in the months ahead. We do not take this problem lightly. We take it very seriously indeed.

Mr. Thompson

Does the Minister recollect that the White Paper "Prevention and Health" promised a White Paper in 1979 on the elderly? Can he tell us whether it will be published soon after the new year, before the referendum or before the General Election?

Mr. Ewing

All I can say is that it will be published in 1979.

Mr. Carmichael

Does my hon. Friend accept that it is good news that we shall have 11 units with 30 places in Glasgow, because of the great demand? Can he give any idea of the time scale in which these beds can be expected to be made available?

Mr. Ewing

I shall write to my hon. Friend and give him the details.