HC Deb 20 January 1986 vol 90 cc6-7
5. Mrs. Clwyd

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the formulae and methodology used to allocate resources for the National Health Service in Glamorgan and other area health authorities in Wales.

Mr. Mark Robinson

Formulae are used to assist in determining the distribution of the available resources among district health authorities. Those formulae are kept under review by a resource allocation working group, on which the authorities are represented.

Mrs. Clwyd

Does the Minister agree that unemployment in Mid Glamorgan is almost the highest of any county in Wales, that there is an established link between unemployment and ill health, that those factors are not being taken into account as either social or economic factors, and that the resources available to Mid Glamorgan area health authority are inadequate to deal with the health demands of that county?

Mr. Robinson

We do not accept that there is such a link. In terms of the adequacy of resources available to Mid Glamorgan health authority, the equalisation formula shows that Mid Glamorgan is within 0.1 per cent. of equalisation.

Mr. Best

My hon. Friend's officials are considering sparsity and whether there could be a better formula than length of roads for areas such as Gwynned. When are those considerations likely to be completed, and when will we get a better assessment of sparsity?

Mr. Robinson

The resource allocation working group will resume its work on the next round of allocations, when all those factors will be considered.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

The Minister told us earlier that allocation and distribution of resources within authorities was a matter for those authorities, but what is his response when the authorities tell the public that inadequate allocation from the Welsh Office has forced them to propose closures?

Mr. Robinson

As resources to the Health Service in Wales have increased by nearly 22 per cent. since 1979, we cannot accept the argument that inadequate resources from the Welsh Office are responsible for the problems that some health authorities say they have. As I have said many times, the health authorities must manage the resources that are allocated to them.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

In his considerations, how much does my hon. Friend take into account the willingness of health authorities to make the best use of the resources available to them?

Mr. Robinson

We do not take that factor into account when allocating resources. Of course, we take it into account when we consider centrally distributed resources.

Mr. Ron Davies

Does the Minister realise that his complacency is directly contradicted by the experience of people who live in Mid Glamorgan and who require the services of the NHS? I refer him especially to the case of a constituent who went for a cervical smear test in January and was advised at the surgery not to bother making further contact for three months because the National Health Service did not have the money to carry out the test. How can he say that he is satisfied with the funding of the National Health Service when such delays can occur?

Mr. Robinson

If a patient being treated by the health authority has a complaint about the way in which he or she has been treated, he or she has a right to submit that complaint, which will be considered through the statutory processes. There are problems with waiting lists, and the Welsh Office is helping the health authority to consider ways in which to reduce them.

Mr. Rogers

Does the Minister accept that between his pathetic excuses and fiddling figures there is a great need for more resources in the valleys of south Wales? When he visits Mid Glamorgan hospitals, which he proposes to do this week, will he look closely at the needs of the people there?

Mr. Robinson

Regarding the resources available for health services in Wales, any factors within the terms of the resource allocation working group which lead to any increase in resources to Mid Glamorgan—for example for social deprivation—will inevitably lead to a reduction in the resources available to other authorities. I can only repeat what I have said before, that there has been an increase in resources to the NHS in Wales of nearly 22 per cent.