HC Deb 18 June 1996 vol 279 c672
6. Mr. Michael Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the current number of patients on the waiting list for the South Humber health authority. [31699]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. John Horam)

Provisional figures show that at 30 April 1996 there were 6,919 South Humber residents waiting for admission to hospital, all but seven of whom had been waiting for less than 12 months. This is a significant improvement on recent figures

Mr. Brown

Will my hon. Friend confirm that, in the 1970s, approximately 20 per cent. of the patients were on the waiting list for more than 12 months? Does not his answer indicate that we have made dramatic improvements in South Humber? I refer to one point of concern to local residents: yesterday there was a report that too many operations are being cancelled at the last minute. Will the Minister assure me and my constituents that he will look into this matter, as there is nothing more distressing for a patient than being called to hospital only to have an operation cancelled?

Mr. Horam

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend's latter comment: there is nothing more distressing than having an operation cancelled at the last minute. There has been a problem in my hon. Friend's area due to the illness of one consultant combined with a sudden increase in the number of emergency admissions. However, all but one of the people whose operations were cancelled were admitted within a month—which is within patients charter standards. Given the excellent performance of South Humberside in reducing its waiting list—my hon. Friend paid tribute to that record—I know that it will make every effort to ensure that it does not happen again.