HC Deb 12 February 1979 vol 962 cc775-6
14. Mr. Michael Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he has taken to reduce the detrimental effects of industrial action on the lives of the patients, nurses, doctors, administrators and others who work in hospitals in Wales.

Mr. John Morris

Action to minimise the detrimental effects is the responsibility of individual health authorities, with which I am in daily contact. I have sought to sustain their efforts and those of all who are working to maintain the service. Last Thursday my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State met all the health authority chairmen, who believed that services would be maintained. I cannot praise too highly the efforts of the dedicated staff who are doing their utmost in difficult circumstances.

Mr. Roberts

Does the Secretary of State accept that the industrial action taken in the hospitals of South Glamorgan, for instance, is probably having a much greater effect on nurses and on patients and their relatives than the unions anticipated when they reluctantly undertook these actions? Does he, therefore, consider it worth while calling the unions together to discuss with them and the area health authorities how best to remove the worst and most detrimental effects to patients?

Mr. Morris

I know that the hon. Member is concerned about this matter. I think that we must move in the best way for the whole of the service, and for patients in particular. From my intervention in his speech in the House last week, the hon. Gentleman will know that while negotiations are taking place nationally, of which I am fully cognisant and to which I am a party, it is best for local matters to be discussed and dealt with locally. The Opposition spokesman, wrongly informed as he was, joined issue with my right hon. Friend for having intervened locally. That is not the best way of doing it. I am keeping in very close touch. I am watching the situation very carefully. I shall do whatever is necessary.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Whilst we are concerned about the industrial action, will my right hon. and learned Friend consider that the low-paid workers in the Health Service have a case? Has he seen the report today by doctors who are expressing deep concern about the effect that an Assembly will have on the Health Service? There is a feeling that if an Assembly is created and the Health Service is administered by that Assembly we shall move away from Nye Bevan's desire to have a uniform Health Service for the whole of Britain.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is moving on to a totally dfferent question. This question concerns industrial action in Wales. There will be a further opportunity to discuss the other issue.

Mr. Grist

Does the Secretary of State agree that the people of Cardiff and Aberavon are having to bear a grossly unfair penalty for having elected his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and himself?

Mr. Morris

I thought that the hon. Gentleman had a useful contribution to make. Obviously that is not so.