HC Deb 12 June 1984 vol 61 c752
11. Mr. Freud

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many representations he has had from health authorities where a shortage of acute beds is further exacerbated by non-regional specialty referrals.

Mr. John Patten

None, Sir.

Mr. Freud

Will the Minister accept that the Cambridgeshire problem of second referrals and the financial burden of being classed as a centre of excellence are very expensive for a county and do infinite harm to other people in the county? Will he, as a matter of urgency, allocate extra resources for an in-depth analysis of what is going on?

Mr. Patten

I will not accept that. Adequate provision is normally made for cross-boundary flows between local health authorities. Secondly, the East Anglia regional health authority is instituting a high-level review, which involves the Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon district health authorities, to look at these issues. Thirdly, the hon. Gentleman should accept some of the responsibility for the state of affairs in East Anglia., for it was in the period of the last Labour Government that East Anglia resources for the Health Service got way behind. That Government were supported by the Lib-Lab pact, and it has been this Government who since we took office, have increased expenditure on the NHS in East Anglia to a higher level than it has ever been. We shall continue to do so.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Should a patient have to travel for specialist treatment from an area where that treatment is available in the private sector from doctors who also have a contract with the National Health Service?

Mr. Patten

It is up to consultants to decide what they do in their free time regarding work in the private sector. It is important that National Health Service waiting lists are examined so that there can be maximum flexibility and people can be switched from one waiting list to another where the waiting time is shorter.

Dr. Mawhinney

Does my hon. Friend accept that if the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) pressed the Cambridge authority to run its district as efficiently as the Peterborough district is run—as it covers my constituency and part of his—he would not: have the basis for his question in the first place?

Mr. Patten

While I am happy to give some praise to my hon. Friend's own district health authority, the last: thing I wish to do is to criticise the Cambridge district health authority, whose chairman is doing an admirable job tackling some of these detailed problems. The root of the problem goes back to the underfunding of East Anglia. between 1974 and 1979, which the Government are correcting.

Forward to