HC Deb 10 December 1984 vol 69 cc719-20
3. Mr. Hubbard-Miles

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many nurses were employed in Wales per 1,000 population on 31 March 1978 and 31 March 1984.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

Monthly data were not collected in 1978. However, according to the annual census at 30 September 1978 the National Health Service in Wales employed 8.1 whole-time equivalent nurses per 1,000 population. The figure at 31 March 1984 was 9.3 whole-time equivalent nurses per 1,000 population.

Mr. Hubbard-Miles

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. Can he say how that substantial increase in front-line workers in the NHS has affected the number of inpatients and outpatients being treated?

Mr. Roberts

Certainly. The increase in the number of inpatients being cared for between September 1979 and September 1983 was 10.9 per cent. The number of day cases cared for increased by 11.2 per cent. and outpatients by 12.6 per cent.—a very creditable performance.

Mr. Wigley

Does the Minister accept that that increase reflects the increase in demand, particularly through the growth of the geriatric population? Does he also accept that the increased pressure on hospitals comes from a cut in resources for local government and a failure to maintain home helps, which means that people who would otherwise be helped in their own homes have to go to hospital?

Mr. Roberts

No, I do not accept that. A certain element of the increase in the number of patients treated is a result of demographic change, but the hon. Gentleman will be aware that there has been a comparable increase in the amount of money spent by local authorities on personal social services.

Sir Raymond Gower

In view of those significant figures, can my hon. Friend explain the extent of the propaganda to the contrary?

Mr. Roberts

It is very difficult. One can only hope that truth will triumph eventually, and I am glad to assure my hon. Friend that it does appear to be triumphing at long last.

Dr. Marek

If the Minister wishes to take credit for those numbers, perhaps he will supply the House with further information. For the dates that he has mentioned, what were the average numbers of hours worked per nurse, and what was the ratio of SENs to SRNs?

Mr. Roberts

On the last point, if the hon. Gentleman will put down a question I shall answer it. I am sure that he will not expect me to carry those figures in my head. During the period about which we are talking there was a reduction in the number of hours worked by nurses, but, even so, there was an increase in the total number of nurses over and above that required to compensate for the decrease in their, working hours. There was also an increase in the total number of front-line staff for the Health Service.