HC Deb 21 March 1989 vol 149 cc900-1
10. Mr. Riddick

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the average annual increase after inflation in the capital investment programme of the Yorkshire regional health authority between 1979 and 1988; what was the figure for the years 1974 to 1979; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman

A direct comparison between 1978–79 and 1987–88 shows an increase in real terms of 15.6 per cent. in the rate of capital expenditure in the Yorkshire region. A similar comparison of 1974–75 with 1978–79 shows a decrease in real terms of 7.9 per cent. measured at 1987–88 prices.

Mr. Riddick

Can my hon. Friend confirm that those excellent figures have led to increased and improved patient care in Yorkshire? Does he agree that, despite the noisy rhetoric of Opposition Members, not least the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), the figures conclusively demonstrate that Labour cuts hospital building and that the NHS is safe only in Conservative hands?

Mr. Freeman

I am happy to confirm that. The additional capital investment that has gone into the Yorkshire region—indeed, the whole of the National Health Service in England—has manifested itself in greater patient activity. In Yorkshire, over the past 10 years, out-patient cases have gone up from 2.5 million a year to 3 million a year, and in-patient activity over the last five years is up from 450,000 per annum to 550,000 cases per annum.

Mr. Madden

Does the Minister accept that in Bradford the combination of cutting expenditure and creeping privatisation is creating widespread concern among those who depend upon the National Health Service for their health care? Will he nail the rumour that he has it in mind to appoint councillor Eric Pickles as the chair of Bradford district health authority? His appointment would have a devastating effect upon the morale of those who serve in the Health Service in Bradford and would be most unwelcome to the citizens of that city who depend on the service for their health care.

Mr. Freeman

What I can confirm is that, in terms of allocations to the Yorkshire region, as to all regions of England, there is a substantial real increase in resources going to the Health Service in the next financial year. In the case of Yorkshire, the increase is 2.5 per cent. in real terms.

The chairmanship of the district health authority is a matter for consideration and announcement in due course.