§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. John Horam)
On 31 March 1996, there were 5,231 patients awaiting kidney transplants. On 31 December 1990, the figure was 3,668 and on 31 December 1985, it was 3,443. Improvements in medicine and surgery have allowed many more people to receive renal dialysis and so be added to the transplant list.
§ Ms Hodge
I am intrigued by that answer because the figures seem somewhat at variance with those that were given to me by the National Kidney Federation. It has expressed some concern that the number of those waiting for kidney transplants has increased by 50 per cent. over that time frame whereas—[Interruption.]
§ Ms Hodge
Does the Minister agree with the concern that has been expressed by the National Kidney Federation that the number of people waiting for kidney transplants between those years has increased by 50 per cent. whereas the number of transplants that has been executed is 30 per cent? That is a huge indictment of the national health service. Does he wish to comment on two important matters that were raised by the National Kidney Federation, first that—[Interruption.]
§ Madam Speaker
Order. Hon Members must get accustomed to the fact that questions must be brisk and to the point. I have said from time to time that we are not proceeding down the Order Paper properly because of long questions and long answers. I appeal to all Members for short, sharp, brisk questions. That is the way to do it.
§ Madam Speaker
Order. The hon. Lady has made her point well. I expect a brisk reply from the Minister.
§ Mr. Horam
I shall certainly keep my wind-up short. I am surprised that the hon. Lady mentioned the National Kidney Federation because I saw its representatives only a few weeks ago and they expressed satisfaction with progress although, obviously, they would like to see quicker progress. I hope that the hon. Lady will join me in welcoming this week the president of Rotary International, Dr Keith Barnard-Jones, who hopes to put another 7 million people on the donor register. That will be the best action that can be taken to help the people about whom the hon. Lady is concerned.
§ Mr. Nigel Evans
I welcome the fact that the number of people receiving dialysis since 1983 has doubled. I also welcome the Government's 1994 initiative on placing the donor organ register on computer. I and other hon. Members pressed for that. Does he think that there is some disappointment at the fact that there are only 3 million people on that register? Will he look at other initiatives in addition to the one that he has just announced to try to entice more people who used to fill in and carry cards to put themselves on the organ registration computer scheme?
§ Mr. McLeish
Despite the Minister's characteristic complacency, does he accept and acknowledge that the treatment of kidney failure in England and Wales is facing a real crisis, with damaging consequences for patients, that, every year, 1,000 people are dying because of their failure to receive kidney dialysis machine treatment, and that the differences between regions in terms of treatment are grotesque and totally unacceptable? Will he not say that the market is distorting patient priorities? The Government must act to put an end to that scandal.
§ Mr. Horam
I reject emphatically all the hon. Gentleman's allegations. The renal review was welcomed by the National Kidney Federation, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Barking (Ms Hodge), and which has expressed considerable satisfaction with the position. Of course, it wants to go faster, but we have not only published the renal review, but put in place further guidelines to health authorities, which will tackle the problem. I agree with the hon. Gentleman about one thing: there are disparities between the regions. The guidelines will help to tackle those.