HC Deb 13 February 1996 vol 271 cc797-8
9. Mr. Corbyn

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is his estimate of the average waiting time of accident and emergency visits at hospitals in London; and if he will make a statement. [13312]

Mr. Malone

Information is collected to monitor patients charter standards, which cover initial assessment and accident and emergency departments. Patients requiring emergency treatment are always treated immediately. National health service trusts and health authorities are working together to ensure that all patients attending accident and emergency departments are seen as quickly as possible.

Mr. Corbyn

Is the Minister aware that there is increasing concern all over London about the length of time that people spend in accident and emergency departments awaiting treatment? In view of last Friday's tragedy in east London, should not the Government reappraise the proposal to close Edgware accident and emergency department and consider reopening St. Bartholomew's accident and emergency department, so that Londoners may be secure in the knowledge that at least they will receive treatment at a nearby casualty unit, rather than being shuttled miles away in ambulances through a very congested city?

Mr. Malone

The accident and emergency and all other services performed magnificently in light of last Friday's tragedy, and I add my thanks to those that have been expressed already in the House.

The hon. Gentleman tries to generalise from a particular incident. I shall give him the overall figures for accident and emergency attendances at Whittington hospital, in which he has a constituency interest. From April to June, 75 per cent. of patients were seen within two hours and 96 per cent. within four hours. From July to September, 81 per cent. were seen within two hours and 99 per cent. within four hours. From October to December, which is a tough period, 60 per cent. were seen within two hours and 96 per cent. within four hours. The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues try to characterise the service as insufficient; if they look at the overall record, they will find that they are precisely wrong.

Mr. Dykes

Does my hon. Friend accept that we need no lectures from the Labour party on how to run a modern health service, as when the Labour party was last in power it closed or reduced 60 hospital units a year? Does he agree, however, that there are legitimate anxieties about future provision at Edgware general hospital, and that there is every reason to keep its accident and emergency facilities intact?

Mr. Malone

I understand that there are legitimate anxieties, but they have been discussed with my right hon. Friend and properly taken into account.

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