HC Deb 13 December 1983 vol 50 cc823-4
8. Mr. Kilroy-Silk

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the number of persons awaiting urgent in-hospital treatment at the latest available date (a) nationally, and (b) on Merseyside.

Mr. John Patten

On 31 March 1983, 49,123 cases were classified as urgent awaiting admission to National Health Service hospitals in England, and a total of 1,032 such cases in the health districts on Merseyside.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Is it not a scandal and a disgrace, and a commentary on the competence and compassion of the Government, that so many thousands of people in agony and distress should be waiting for urgent hospital treatment, or dying on the waiting lists, when there are unused new beds and unemployed doctors and nurses as a consequence of the Government's mismanagement of the Health Service?

Mr. Patten

Since 1979 waiting lists have been reducing on Merseyside and nationally. Between 1974 and 1979, waiting lists increased by 52 per cent. on Merseyside. We have been struggling since then to bring the waiting lists down. The hon. Gentleman would have helped that progress if he had intervened with his trade union colleagues and friends on Merseyside during last year's industrial action.

Mrs. Currie

In view of the national waiting list, will my hon. Friend confirm that the most difficult to tackle is the orthopaedic waiting list? In view of the recommendations of the Duthie report, will he undertake to have a close look at the proposed closure of the Bretby orthopaedic hospital in my constituency, which closure is being considered by the southern Derbyshire health authority?

Mr. Patten

The picture varies regionally. I shall examine my hon. Friend's submission.

Mr. Skinner

If, as the Minister says, the number of people on waiting lists is falling, why did he not tell the Prime Minister of that massive advance so that she could use the National Health Service?

Mr. Patten

The hon. Gentleman has followed an earlier silly question by his hon. Friend on the Front Bench, the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), with another silly question.