HC Deb 04 May 1993 vol 224 cc8-9
6. Sir Anthony Durant

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS trusts are in operation in the Oxford region; what was the number in April 1991; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

Oxford region is an excellent example of the growing success of the trust movement. From 1 April, 15 units—nearly two thirds of all those in the region—achieved trust status.

Sir Anthony Durant

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, thanks to the excellent work of NHS trusts, including the Royal Berkshire hospital and Battle hospital—which cover my constituency and the neighbouring constituency of Newbury—the 18-month waiting list for cataract, hip and knee operations has been eliminated? That is thanks also to the policies promoted in our manifesto.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that my wife and I attended Royal Berkshire hospital following an accident at Christmas? My wife underwent a serious operation on her shoulder. We received that treatment as national health service patients—[interruption] I hope that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) realises that. As NHS patients, we received an excellent service.

Mrs. Bottomley

I confirm my hon. Friend's comments about the Oxford region and about Newbury in particular. Not only in Oxford but throughout the country, no patient is waiting longer than 18 months for a hip replacement or cataract operation. At the end of last month, only eight patients were waiting for a knee replacement. We have passed another milestone in our sustained and increasingly successful drive to reduce long waiting times. We have honoured a key pledge in our manifesto and in the patients charter.

I must tell my hon. Friend that he has sold the residents of Newbury short. At the West Berkshire priority care NHS trust, which I visited last week, no patient is waiting longer than 15 months. That is a substantial achievement. I am delighted that the care received by my hon. Friend and his wife at the Royal Berkshire trust was of such high quality. A recent patient survey in Newbury showed that well over 90 per cent. of patients were very satisfied with the health care that they receive.

Mr. Skinner

If the NHS satisfies the hon. Member for Reading, West (Sir A. Durant) and one or two others in the Tory party, why does not the Secretary of State tell every member of the Tory Cabinet to use the NHS?

Mrs. Bottomley

It is characteristic of Labour to be obsessed with a vicious vendetta against the private sector. I regard the private sector as partners, not pariahs. It is my responsibility to ensure that the NHS continues to improve and to treat patients to an ever higher standard. The dramatic reductions in waiting times are a great achievement, as are the new immunisation figures that I was able to announce over the weekend. Nye Bevan would be cheering in his grave.