HC Deb 18 March 1991 vol 188 cc4-5
4. Mr. Gareth Wardell

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what information he has regarding the number of open-heart operations for adults that is needed to be carried out for people in Wales.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

We are presently developing cardiac services in Wales to reflect the advice of the Royal College of Physicians that about 560 to 660 operations per million population are required for adults.

Mr. Wardell

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. His arithmetic will tell him straight away that, with a population of 2.5 million, Wales needs 1,200 adult open-heart operations every year, not the present abysmal figure of fewer than 700. As Wales has one of the highest rates of cardiac disease of any developed country in the world, will the Minister tell us when the promises that have been made since 1984 that the figure will be raised to 1,200 adult operations are to be kept, when the satellite unit which will perform 400 adult operations will be set up and where will it be sited?

Mr. Bennett

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman takes such a negative view of this important subject. [Interruption.] It is a pity that Labour Members do not want to hear the facts. In the current financial year, there have been 140 more operations. The hon. Gentleman should remember that in 1979 there were no such operations. We have recognised the need for a second cardiac centre to perform some 400 operations a year. Consideration is now being given to where it should be sited: it will be somewhere to the west of Cardiff, but there are competing claims from Swansea, Bridgend and elsewhere. We shall ensure that an announcement is made as soon as a proper decision can be reached, which will mean staffing with good consultants.

The hon. Gentleman should also remember that the 1,200 operations to which he referred do not represent merely the total number of heart operations in Wales. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) should listen. His hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Wardell) has asked a serious question and I am giving a serious answer. The total number of operations will not be just the 1,200 in Wales—[ Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is rather a long answer.

Mr. Bennett

With respect, Mr. Speaker, it was a rather complicated question.

Patients in north Wales who are now going to Merseyside and Manchester will continue to do so. The total for Wales will be more than 1,200, but some of the operations will be performed in English hospitals.

Mr. Rogers

Despite the grave danger of being subjected to yet another party political broadcast, may I ask whether the Minister is aware that many of the referrals for open-heart surgery are from chest clinics, especially those scattered throughout the valleys, where there is a good deal of residual ill health caused by mining? The chest clinics are still desperately needed, despite the substantial rundown of the mining industry that has taken place under the present Government.

In the light of that, what does the Minister think of Mid Glamorgan health authority's arbitrary decision to close the chest clinic in Pontypridd without any consultation with the community health council, Members of Parliament or anyone else who might have an interest? Given that 60 per cent. of patients at the Pontypridd chest clinic come from the Rhondda, I am very much alarmed by the methods adopted by the new type of health authority and the failure to consult anyone.

Mr. Bennett

It is clear that the hon. Gentleman has not heard about this morning's announcement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about improvements to the health service in the valleys. A further £5.65 million is to be provided and 13 more projects will be helped. All of that will help the people of the valleys to improve their health service.

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