HC Deb 24 July 1979 vol 971 cc324-5
2. Mr. Parry

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the estimated number of job losses on Merseyside following proposed spending cuts in the National Health Service.

The Minister for Health (Dr. Gerard Vaughan)

National Health Service expenditure in Merseyside is not being cut.

Mr. Parry

Is the Minister aware of the strong concern and anger being felt by trade unions about the proposed cuts? I am informed by union representatives that the proposed cuts will affect especially the training hospital which has been opened recently. Can the Minister assure the House that there will be no partial closures in local hospitals, particularly at the new Royal Liverpool hospital?

Dr. Vaughan

Temporary closures are a matter for the local health authorities. An additional £5 million has been allocated to the Mersey regional health authority this year, but that is likely to be offset by the constraints on cash limits. I remind the hon. Gentleman that the decision not to fund in full the costs of additional pay settlements, for example, was taken by the previous Administration.

Mr. Steen

Will my hon. Friend remember that when he creates changes in the National Health Service the professionals working in the Service should be involved in the decision-making process, and that it should not be left to the bureaucrats and administrators to do it on their own?

Dr. Vaughan

We are well aware of this, and I remind my hon. Friend that this underlies the Conservative health policy, which is to reduce bureaucracy in a way which will allow the money available to be used to provide medical care for patients.

Mr. Orme

How can the Minister say that there will be no cuts when Merseyside will have to take its share of the £100 million cuts proposed by the Government?

Dr. Vaughan

Apparently the right hon. Gentleman has failed to understand the statement which I made just now. The Mersey region has been asked to meet £1.3 million of the excess costs of pay awards, but the region is getting £5 million of additional alocated resources. This money will offset the extra costs resulting from pay awards and value added tax.