HC Deb 16 April 1985 vol 77 cc131-2
12. Sir Fergus Montgomery

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the facilities for open heart surgery in the Manchester area.

Mr. John Patten

Open heart surgery in Manchester is provided at Wythenshawe hospital and Manchester royal infirmary. In the year just ended a total of 1,130 open heart operations were carried out in Manchester, 23 per cent. more than in 1983–84. The North-Western regional health authority is developing ambitious plans in its new strategy to increase heart surgery cases, and a substantial increase is planned in the next 12 months.

Sir Fergus Montgomery

I recognise the considerable advances that have been made in open heart surgery in the Manchester area, but may I urge my hon. Friend to impress upon the North-Western regional health authority the importance of trying to do even more of that vital work over the next decade?

Mr. Patten

The whole country has shared in the success which the North-Western regional health authority has seen over the past five years. For example, open heart surgery has more than doubled and coronary artery bypass grafting has gone up by 160 per cent. I shall impress on the regional health authority the fact that we expect to see that high priority maintained.

Mr. Eastham

May I assure the Minister that the medical profession in Manchester is far from satisfied with heart surgery operations in that area. Consultants and general practitioners are worried and distressed about the long delays, and the suffering that has been caused as a result. Is it not a fact that throughout the country there are increasing delays for people needing heart surgery? May I also tell the Minister that today my own union, the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, forwarded a letter to me saying that in the Coventry area one of our members has now waited nine months——

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is a bit wide of Manchester, I think.

Mr. Eastham

It is still relevant to heart operations. One of our members has been waiting nine months for treatment. What will the Minister do about that?

Mr. Patten

I do not know about the AUEW in Coventry. What I do know is that there is a record number of open heart operations in Manchester, and the health authority is making a substantial, planned and proper increase in the number of operations in the coming 12 months.

Mr. Tracy

Is it the case that my hon. Friend is, perhaps, channelling too many funds to Manchester rather than to Guy's hospital in south-east London, as cited in the television programme mentioned by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) a few moments ago, or is it a fact that the South-East Thames regional health authority is not efficient?

Mr. Patten

Guy's hospital is also rather a long way from Manchester. However, what I can say about that hospital and that regional health authority is that we estimate that the authority could be saving as much as £1 million per annum by putting out its services to competitive tender. It is refusing to do so. That is why it is in financial trouble.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Will the Minister tell the House how many patients from the Manchester area have had to be taken to London for their heart operations in the past year, and what was the total cost?

Mr. Patten

I do not know the exact figures. I shall write to the right hon. Gentleman. However, I can tell him that in the past year the number of open heart operations has gone up by a quarter in Manchester, and there are substantial plans for real and sustained improvement in the level of services in the city.