HC Deb 29 April 1991 vol 190 cc2-3
2. Mr. Rogers

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he next intends to meet the chairmen of health authorities in Wales to discuss the level of expenditure provision for the health service in Wales.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. David Hunt)

I met health authority chairmen on 31 January and I hope to do so again in the near future.

Mr. Rogers

The Secretary of State is aware that both my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) and I have been pressing him hard in recent years about the construction of the new East Glamorgan hospital. Can he confirm that he is going ahead with it and that we will have those new resources for the Rhondda and Taff-Ely area?

Mr. Hunt

I am happy to confirm that today I approved plans for two new district general hospitals to be built for the national health service in Wales at a cost of more than £130 million. I have approved proposals by the Mid Glamorgan health authority to build a new hospital on land at Ynys-Y-Plwm near Llantrisant and by West Glamorgan health authority to build one at Baglan moors, Port Talbot.

Mr. Foot

When the right hon. Gentleman sees what an almighty botch his fellow Ministers are making of the national health service in England, will he work on the simple principle "Go thou and do otherwise"?

Mr. Hunt

Not at all. As Ministers responsible for health, we work closely together throughout the United Kingdom. However, I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that I have done a small calculation. If the national health service in Wales was now spending the amount that it was spending when the Labour party was last in government, at 1992 prices, the total amount spent in Wales would be £1,104 million. That appears to be a reasonable sum, until it is compared with the amount that the Government are spending in the coming year, which is £1,719 million. I have to ask the Opposition where the £615 million cuts would have been imposed. How many hospitals would have been closed if the Opposition were still in office?

Mr. Gwilym Jones

At last Wednesday's meeting of the Welsh Select Committee, we took evidence from medical academics. The chief witness, a statistician, told us that it is not possible to construct a mathematical formula to use waiting lists meaningfully and that the only worthwhile statistic is the number of patients being treated in Wales each year. If we were to move to the spending levels practised by the Opposition would that not mean a cut in the 700,000 patients being treated each year in Wales?

Mr. Hunt

That is right. It is about time that the Labour party, instead of throwing accusations at the Government, answered these clear questions. The number of people treated by the national health service in Wales is at an all-time record. In the year to June 1990, 472,000 in-patients and 2,300,000 out-patients received treatment and diagnosis. Since 1979, the number of in-patients treated is up by 36.6 per cent., the number of out-patients by 29.8 per cent. and the number of day cases by a staggering 246 per cent.

Mr. Barry Jones

I welcome the building of two new hospitals in Wales. My hon. Friends have worked hard to persuade the Secretary of State and his predecessors to build those hospitals.

Bearing in mind the proposed staff losses and cuts in patient services at Guy's hospital, will the right hon. Gentleman commit himself to opposing any bids by health authorities or hospitals to opt out?

Mr. Hunt

The hon. Gentleman has scored another spectacular own goal in attacking the Government's record on the health service in Wales, and he has not answered the question that I posed to the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot). If we still had a Labour Government, that Government would be spending £650 million less. I am proud of my record and that of my right hon. Friends in Wales, where we are now spending £602 for every man, woman and child.