HC Deb 27 April 1988 vol 132 cc343-5
14. Mr. Oppenheim

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many patients were cared for in Scottish hospitals in each year from 1979.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

There was an increase in in-patient discharges from NHS hospitals in Scotland of 104,708 between 1979 and 1987. Out-patient attendances increased in the same period by 464,356 and day cases nearly doubled. With permission, I shall arrange to have the information requested published in the Official Report.

Mr. Oppenheim

Is it not excellent news that the Scots are getting so much treatment? Is it not also the case that even more patients could be treated in Scotland if it were not for the attitude of the Scottish TUC, which is trying to insist that all work within Scottish hospitals is carried out by a closed shop of its own directly employed members at the expense of private sector employees, many of whom are also union members?

Mr. Forsyth

As I understand it, the STUC has called off official action against competitive tendering in hospitals in Scotland and is setting about ensuring that its members take part in the competitive tendering process, which we very much welcome. My hon. Friend is right to point to the success of the Health Service in Scotland and the effects of industrial action. Some 3,500 operations have been lost as a result of the action taken by the STUC, at a time when we have a major waiting list initiative. We are reducing waiting lists, which had no fewer than 20,000 people added to them because of the last round of industrial action organised by trade unions and supported by Opposition Members.

Mr. Darling

The Minister of State will no doubt be aware that tomorrow Lothian health board will announce its option appraisal plan for the replacement of the Royal infirmary in Edinburgh. Can he assure us that when the appraisal is finished the Government will fund the replacement of the infirmary so that it is not downgraded to the status of a district general hospital, and so that it can maintain its status as a major clinical and teaching centre in the United Kingdom and the world?

Mr. Forsyth

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, for some time we have been emphasising the importance of Lothian completing the review of acute services so that a decision can be taken as to the best means of going forward with Edinburgh royal infirmary, whether on its present site or on a green field site. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will join me in paying tribute to I he success of Lothian health board in establishing so many new capital projects in its area, including the new district general hospital at Livingston, which is one of the biggest capital projects under way in Scotland at present.

Mr. Andrew Welsh

Can the Minister state how many hospitals in Scotland have been closed since 1979? Will he state his level of commitment to rural and borough hospitals in Scotland? Will he join in the fight in his own district of Angus to ensure that the maternity units in Montrose and Arbroath remain open to continue their excellent work? Will he state his level of commitment to such hospitals?

Mr. Forsyth

May I enlist the hon. Gentleman's support in the fight to improve the Health Service, instead of concentrating on attacking a Government who have ensured that out-of-date and redundant facilities are closed in order to invest in new facilities? I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman, as a Scottish National Member, would point to the considerable share of the capital programme enjoyed by hospitals in Scotland. Since 1979 there have been no fewer than 53 new hospital projects costing more than £1 million, and 32 more are in the pipeline, yet the hon. Gentleman has the nerve to ask me about closures.

Following is the information:

In-patient discharges, out-patient treatments and day cases in NHS hospitals in Scotland.
Year ending 31 March In-patient discharges Out-patient treatments1 Day cases
1979 737,816 5,206,078 80,271
1980 764,301 5,268,984 87,223
1981 785,080 5,367,934 98,044
1982 793,171 5,433,697 104,729
1983 744,436 5,278,411 98,592
1984 809,681 5,519,030 126,721
1985 821,642 5,593,127 132,613
1986 837,044 5,668,199 147,132
1987 842,524 5,670,434 158,841
1 Out-patient attendances at consultant clinics.

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