§ 14. Mr. Ainger
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on waiting lists in Wales.
§ Mr. Richards
In the 12 months to March 1994, the percentage of people waiting more than three months for a first outpatient appointment fell to 39.6 per cent. and the proportion of patients waiting more than a year for treatment fell to 14 per cent., the lowest percentage ever recorded in Wales.
§ Mr. Ainger
The figures reveal a slight drop in waiting lists in Wales in general, certainly not in the Pembrokeshire area. The latest document produced by the East Dyfed and the Pembrokeshire health authorities, which contains details of their purchasing plans for 1995–96, makes it clear that, because of the need to spend a large additional sum on cutting waiting lists, they will have to make cuts elsewhere in their budget, especially in community hospitals, the community services in general and the ambulance service. Instead of preaching[...] about waiting lists through their patients charter, when will the Government start providing health authorities with sufficient resources so that they can tackle the problems rather than having to cut vital services?
§ Mr. Richards
This Government are putting resources into the national health service—in fact, sufficient resources, I must remind the hon. Gentleman, so that in-patient and day cases in Wales since 1979 are up by 77 per cent. and new out-patients are up by 40 per cent. In the hon. Gentleman's own county of Pembrokeshire, in-patients and day cases are up by 95 per cent. and new 13 out-patients are up by 32 per cent. There have, indeed, been problems meeting the guarantees of the patients charter in Pembrokeshire and we are aware that measures are in hand which we are, obviously, monitoring carefully to ensure that the guarantees are met. Those include extra theatre sessions, alternative venues for treatment and a new system to identify all patients approaching three months from the guarantee. The hon. Gentleman would be better spending his time congratulating the doctors, the nurses and all those involved in health care in Pembrokeshire who are doing their best for his constituents.