HC Deb 18 January 1984 vol 52 cc300-2
3. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give details of the provision of geriatric beds related to the relevant populations for each of the Scottish health boards; and if he is satisfied with the current level of provision in each area.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John MacKay)

With permission, I shall arrange for the relevant figures for each health board to be printed in the Official Report. For Scotland as a whole the total geriatric bed complement at 31 March 1982 represented 39.2 beds per 1,000 of the population aged 75 and over. This is close to the 40 beds per 1,000 recommended in the report, "Scottish Health Authorities Priorities for the Eighties". There are variations between areas, but I am satisfied that all health boards are endeavouring to meet the needs of their areas.

Mr. Douglas

Does the Minister concede that in the truncated debate in the Scottish Grand Committee the Secretary of State said that improvements were made when phase 1 of the Dunfermline and West Fife hospital was opened? May we have an assurance that the improvements in Fife will continue, with support for phase 2 of that hospital in order to bring the number of acute beds in Fife into proportion with the need in the area?

Mr. MacKay

The question is about geriatric provision. The hon. Gentleman should welcome the fact that the Fife health board provided an additional 60 beds at Whyteman's Brae last November and that work is well advanced on a further 120 beds for the elderly in Dunfermline. With recent developments at Glenrothes and Stratheden hospitals, that means that considerable improvements have been made in Fife for the care of the elderly.

Mr. Henderson

I thank my hon. Friend for mentioning the improvements in Fife under the present Government, but does he recognise that the improvements involve catching up? Will he ensure that the Fife health board continues to improve geriatric and psychogeriatric provision in the area?

Mr. MacKay

I agree that we are talking about a catching-up exercise by the Fife health board, which has gained substantially from the more equitable distribution of Health Service funds. It stands to gain further from the continuation of that redistribution. I welcome the priority that Fife health board has given to the care of geriatrics in its use of the additional funds.

Dr. M. S. Miller

Does the Minister accept that the average which he considers reasonable hides wide discrepancies? Does he accept also that it is not good enough that beds should only be available 100 miles away from some areas where they are needed? Will the Minister try to ensure that enough beds are made available in every area in Scotland?

Mr. MacKay

In my main reply I conceded that variations exist in different areas. That is one of the main matters to which health boards must address their attention. They must ensure that geriatric beds are provided where the demand is, and not, as sometimes happens for historic reasons, in areas which are a long way from the demand. That is part and parcel of the priority which I expect health boards to give to geriatric care.

Mr. McQuarrie

Does my hon. Friend accept that in an area with an aging population—

Mr. Foulkes

Speak for yourself.

Mr. McQuarrie

The hon. Gentleman is welcome to think of himself as an aging person. Does my hon. Friend accept that many health boards consider geriatric care in terms of today rather than taking the next few years into account? Does he agree that in many areas there will not be enough beds for geriatrics and psychogeriatrics in the future?

Mr. MacKay

My hon. Friend is right. Health boards must plan not only for today but for demographic changes between now and the end of the century, and I assure my hon. Friend that health boards do that. When considering the plans that they have submitted to my Department we shall examine carefully the provision for likely demand and the way that it will change in different areas.

Mr. James Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that Cleland hospital in my constituency has a long waiting list? Is he aware also that some people have to travel as much as 100 miles to visit patients there? Is he further aware that the hospital board and its administrators are helpful, but that they can do nothing without the beds? What does the Minister propose to do about hospital care in Lanarkshire?

Mr. MacKay

Lanarkshire health board, like some other health boards in Scotland, has a problem in matching its beds to the demand of the area. Let me repeat what I said. Lanarkshire, like other health boards, has to take account in its planning of geriatric provision now and in the future. I have made geriatric care a priority, and I continue to underline that.

Mr. O'Neill

Does the Minister accept that many of the authorities which are dependent on a share of the redistribution for the day-to-day business of running the Health Service in their areas are no longer able to finance or even forecast an expansion along the lines recommended by the SHAPE report in 1980? Does he agree that the present funding of the Health Service is inadequate to meet the responsibilities of Scotland as a whole and to avoid the disparity in provision at which he hinted today? He did not have the guts to come here today and tell us the exact position, although no doubt it will appear on the record. The fact is that the authorities do not have the money to do what he is asking them to do.

Mr. MacKay

The disparity in provision existed in 1979 when we took office. It was inherited from the Labour party. Since 1979 we have increased the amount of money for the National Health Service. It is now at a historic high. We have put more money into the Health Service in Scotland than has ever been put in before—far more than one would imagine from the crocodile tears of the Labour party.

Following is the information:

Health Board Geriatric Bed Complement Rate per 1,000 population over 75
Argyll and Clyde 994 45.3
Ayrshire and Arran 631 33.4
Borders 230 30.1
Dumfries and Galloway 329 38.5
Fife 588 32.4
Forth Valley 553 43.6
Grampian 964 35.2
Greater Glasgow 2,277 42.1
Highland 399 37.3
Lanarkshire 1,094 51.5
Lothian 1,498 36.3
Orkney 51 41.4
Shetland 87 64.0
Tayside 906 36.2
Western Isles 89 35.4
Scotland 10,690 39.2


  1. 1. Bed complement at 31 March 1982 including joint user and contractual beds.
  2. 2. Population as at 30 June 1981.