HC Deb 26 January 1993 vol 217 cc863-4
8. Dr. Wright

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the impact of budgetary restrictions on hospital admissions in the current financial year.

The Minister for Health (Dr. Brian Mawhinney)

The amount of money made available to the health service in England in 1992–93 was in real terms a massive 5.4 per cent. more than in 1991–92 which, together with the benefit of cash-releasing efficiency savings, has enabled over 200,000 more patients to be treated in the first six months of 1992–93 compared with the same period in 1991–92.

Dr. Wright

Is the Minister aware that the Secretary of State's earlier denial of a crisis in the admission of patients to hospital is denied by the experience of patients up and down the country? What does the Secretary of State say to the general practitioner who wrote to me in the first week of January to tell me that he had just been told that, as a non-fund-holding general practitioner in south-east Staffordshire, he would not be able to admit patients to his major referral hospitals in Sutton Coldfield and Walsall until next April? What does the Minister and the Secretary of State say to my constituents who are now being denied hospital treatment? More importantly, what do they intend to do about it?

Dr. Mawhinney

I shall tell the hon. Gentleman what he should say to his constituent. He should tell him that this year there was a 5.5 per cent. real-terms increase in the resources made available to the Mid-Staffordshire district health authority and that next year there will be a 1 per cent. real-terms increase. He should tell him that there has been a 35 per cent. increase in the number of in-patients and a 100 per cent. increase in the number of out-patients treated by the Mid-Staffordshire DHA, and that there has been a 380 per cent. increase in the number of day cases. The GP should speak to the DHA about structuring the contracts next year so that those figures may be improved even more. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman's constituents will be sad that he is not pleased about the great improvement in health care that has been made available to them.

Mr. Harry Greenway

Is my hon. Friend aware that the country is glad that so many more people are being treated in hospital? Will he confirm that when doctors say that cases are urgent it is rare for treatment not to be made available quickly?

Dr. Mawhinney

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is worth pointing out that in this present year we are spending £629 per person on health care. In equivalent terms, the last figure under the Labour Government was £417. By next year, that will mean a massive 61 per cent. real-terms increase in resources.

Ms. Lynne

Does the Minister accept that budgetary restrictions have led to a number of bed closures and is he aware that Rochdale health care trust has closed three wards? What does he suggest that I say to young patients, aged five and nine respectively, who now have to move to another hospital? It is traumatic enough for a child to be in hospital and they are very upset by a move.

Dr. Mawhinney

I do not accept for one moment that there have been budgetary restrictions that have led to the results that the hon. Lady has just set forward. What I do accept is that the contracts, which have produced more resources this year and resulted in more patients being treated than ever before, need to be managed properly. They will be managed better if local managers involve local hospital doctors and consultants in the management process. They will be managed even better if GPs locally are brought into the process of determing how the contracting process should be carried forward. This is precisely the time of year when GPs who are not fund holders ought to be talking to the district health authorities about the shaping of contracts for next year.