HC Deb 10 February 1986 vol 91 cc622-3
2. Dr. Marek

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has had regarding hospital waiting lists; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Mark Robinson)

From time to time I receive representations about waiting lists, usually based on individual cases. There are many different reasons why waiting lists develop in individual specialties. Health authorities have been asked to examine their lists and my Department is currently arranging a workshop with their representatives to consider the problems identified and the development of possible solutions.

Dr. Marek

I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will not sail in the same direction as the Secretary of State, who is on his way out with the Prime Minister. Will he take a refreshing, long look at the extraordinary waiting list in the Principality? In Wales, 130,000 people are waiting to get into hospital, and more than 10,000 have been waiting for in-patient treatment for more than a year. Let us have some truth and honesty for once from the Government. Will the Minister advise me? On Friday I talked to a constituent in Clwyd who is suffering from hair loss because of a disease of the scalp. She has been told that she cannot see a consultant for three months. What is the Minister's advice to my constituent?

Mr. Robinson

The hon. Member suggests that I do not give comparative figures, but sometimes it is a good idea. The rate of increase of in-patient waiting lists has remained roughly consistent with that of the previous Labour Government. The rate of increase in terms of outpatients has fallen by 5 per cent. under the Government. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's constituent, if he will write to me with the details I shall have the case considered.

Mr. Raffan

Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to congratulate Clwyd health authority on its productivity record, especially on halving the eye treatment waiting list during the past year? Will he acknowledge that Clwyd's financial allocation for 1986–87 is not as generous as it might at first appear, because 2.5 per cent. of the 5.5 per cent. increase is needed to meet the cost of pay awards not fully funded last year, leaving only 3 per cent. to cover growth of services, advances in technology and other urgently required improvements in the services?

Mr. Robinson

I know that Clwyd is currently conducting a study of its waiting lists. I welcome its action. With regard to resources in this year's allocation to Clwyd, the conditions in which they were announced were the same for Clwyd as for every health authority in Wales. I should point out that since 1979 resources for Clwyd have increased, taking into account those allocations, by just over 32 per cent.

Mr. John

As Pontypridd district hospital is responsible for 8,000 out-patient treatments per year, and as that hospital is scheduled for closure, what sense is there in adding those to the existing lists in Mid-Glamorgan? Must the population of Mid-Glamorgan now look for admission to one of the hon. Gentleman's famous workshops?

Mr. Robinson

The decision about what services to provide in Mid-Glamorgan is one for that health authority.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

Does my hon. Friend accept that the improvements in the National Health Service under this Government, and the improved treatment, when not such good treatment, or even no treatment, was possible before, have encouraged longer waiting lists? What are the waiting times for those on the waiting list?

Mr. Robinson

My hon. Friend has made a well thought out and valid point. In terms of throughput, inpatient treatment has increased by 18 per cent. Under the Labour Government it increased by only 6 per cent. Outpatient treatment has increased by 12 per cent. Under the previous Labour Government it fell by 3.5 per cent.