HC Deb 23 March 1993 vol 221 cc756-7
9. Mr. Day

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients were treated in the north-western region in the last year for which figures are available and in the previous year.

Mr. Sackville

The figures are 711,000 in 1990–91 and 751,000 in 1991–92, a rise of 6 per cent. This is a remarkable achievement on which I congratulate all those responsible in the north-western region.

Mr. Day

Will my hon. Friend make it clear to the House that the number of patients treated in the north-west is greater than ever before? Will he also take particular note of the fact that in my health authority we have seen the number of patients waiting for 18 months reduced by over three quarters in the past year? Will he, therefore, congratulate those who work in my health authority? Is not it time that the Labour party stopped running down the national health service? In his response, will my hon. Friend point out to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) that many Conservative Members rely totally on the NHS for their health care and are proud to do so?

Mr. Sackville

I certainly agree. There are many problems that we need to overcome in running the NHS as successfully as we do and 269 of them are sitting opposite us. We hear moaning and groaning and sniping and griping, but never any congratulations on the achievements of those who work in the national health service.

Mr. Eastham

Is not it time for Ministers to take off the blinkers when quoting some of the figures that they have this afternoon? In Booth Hall children's hospital in my constituency, waiting lists increase monthly. Only last month I exchanged correspondence regarding a doctor who complained that although a child had been referred to the hospital in January 1992, the earliest time that could be promised for surgery was May 1993. Are we saying that this is a success story? If the Minister disagrees with me, let us jump on the train now and check these facts out today.

Mr. Sackville

Let me remind the hon. Gentleman that no one in the region is waiting two years for treatment. A falling number is waiting for one year and we hope to complete the guarantee of 18 months for all hip, knee and cataract opertions. If he will write to me, I will investigate the particular case that he mentioned.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

While I entirely endorse all the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Day), does my hon. Friend accept that more of the patients in my Macclesfield health authority area are treated in the North-Western regional health authority than are dealt with in the Crewe health authority? Will my hon. Friend therefore oppose the merger of the Macclesfield health authority with the Crewe health authority, a merger which is strongly opposed by the local authorities concerned, a majority of the hon. Members concerned and the community health council? Is there democracy in the health service today or is there not?

Mr. Sackville

Those health authorities that have merged into larger purchasers have found greater efficiencies from doing so and are in a better position to purchase for the needs of the local population.