HC Deb 13 December 1988 vol 143 cc760-1
8. Mr. Baldry

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he next expects to visit the Oxford regional health authority to discuss its future plans.

Mr. Mellor

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will be conducting the annual review of the Oxford regional health authority on 15 February 1989 when she will discuss the region's performance in 1988–89 and its plans for next year.

Mr. Baldry

Is it not true that the Oxford regional health authority is taking a number of new initiatives, including community-oriented mental health facilities, better health promotion and better information for the disabled throughout the region? Are not those just a few examples of the initiatives that the region is taking, not only on its own, but in conjunction with the voluntary and private sectors, and are not those, in turn, indicative of the increasing number of initiatives that regions throughout Britain are taking to promote better health care?

Mr. Mellor

I thank my hon. Friend for his constructive interest in the health services in his area, which extends, among other things, to chairing meetings about income-generation schemes which are greatly valued. The Oxford regional health authority has the largest increase in population of any region and it is extremely impressive that it has managed to cope with that and bring forward those fresh initiatives. Among the many that my hon. Friend mentioned, all of which we commend, I particularly commend the authority's impressive record of keeping all its districts up to or over the 90 per cent. target rate for vaccinations, so much so that it is now aiming for 95 per cent.—something which other regions could usefully emulate.

Mr. Andrew Smith

Is the Minister aware that earlier in the summer I raised with the Government the impending crisis in the Oxford region resulting from the chronic understaffing, high vacancy rates and high staff turnover at the regional blood transfusion centre? Is he further aware that this week in the Oxford region a circular is being distributed which warns of the partial suspension of some of the services of that critical centre? That will have a disastrous effect on the blood service and some other services such as tissue typing. Will the Minister convene an urgent meeting with me, the regional health authority and other interested Members in the region so that we can get that critical service back on the footing on which it should be for all the region's population?

Mr. Mellor

The blood transfusion service is important in any region. Without notice, I cannot comment on the hon. Gentleman's precise points, but I am available to any hon. Member to discuss such important services and I shall be happy to see him.

Mr. Page

When my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State visits Oxford regional health authority to discuss its future plans, will she canvass its views on the need for compulsory clinical assessment of the work of consultants within that region? The British Medical Association has been established for over 130 years and the royal colleges for centuries more and there is still no compulsory clinical judgment on consultants' work. When my hon. Friend visits Oxford will he see whether it is prepared to become a trial area to assess the work of consultants?

Mr. Mellor

My hon. Friend refers to medical audit, in which there is growing interest in Britain. We have recently announced the expenditure of a further £250,000 on research into medical audit, the techniques of which are helpful to the development of a good Health Service. Everyone stands to gain from that, not just people in Oxford.