HC Deb 15 May 1978 vol 950 cc12-4
11. Mr. Nicholas Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what extra resources are made available to the National Health Service in Wales to cater for the exceptional levels of sickness, injury and impairment found there.

Mr. Barry Jones

The special needs of the National Health Service in Wales are reflected in the fact that expenditure per head is more than 3 per cent. above the average for England over the period covered by the latest White Paper on public expenditure. Some expenditure on the NHS in England is also of benefit to Wales.

Mr. Edwards

Is it not a fact that the number of days lost due to sickness in Wales is double that in England? Is it not true that about 30 per cent. more prescriptions are issued in Wales and that Wales suffers from more industrial accidents and much higher levels of impairment, regrettably, than England? Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the additional resources allocated per head are adequate to meet those exceptional needs in the Welsh context?

Mr. Barry Jones

I am never satisfied about the amount of money available for the National Health Service in Wales. There is no established measure of health need. However, because the Government are dissatisfied with the inherited distribution of resources among authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, working groups are set up in each country to consider the matter. Their report suggests that there are disparities in existing resource distribution which the Government want to remove as quickly as resources will permit.

Mr. Kinnock

Does not my hon. Friend accept that one of the reasons for repeated visits to GPs, as an indicator of morbidity in the community, is the fact that we have not enough hospitals to provide curative treatment for people with diseases, notably respiratory and cardiac diseases? Will he pay more attention to that matter and to the fact that we have the highest infant mortality rate of any area of the United Kingdom? Will he perhaps sponsor additional research, which is very expensive, into the matter?

Mr. Barry Jones

I am in agreement with the main points made by my hon. Friend. Late in 1977 the Welsh Office sponsored a morbidity seminar at which we investigated the problems to which my hon. Friend has referred. We in the Welsh Office are sensitive to the problems arising from our industrial heritage of the past century.

Mr. Hooson

Does the Minister accept that one of the reasons for our high National Health Service expenditure in Wales lies in the fact that in many areas there is a pattern of ageing population? Does he realise that many people have moved to Wales in retirement and that the percentage of people over the ages of 60 and 65 is higher than in other parts of the United Kingdom? Has there been a survey on this aspect?

Mr. Barry Jones

There are always surveys being made on these matters concerning the National Health Service in Wales. I know that the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells) will be sorry to have missed asking his Question, but I can tell him that there is currently a capital building programme in Wales of £24 million and that for the early 1980s we expect that there will be a building programme of about £31 million.