HC Deb 21 January 1998 vol 304 cc999-1001
4. Ms Lawrence

If he will make a statement on the percentage cash increase for the health service in Wales in 1998–99. [21965]

Mr. Win Griffiths

Provision for the NHS in Wales in 1998–99 will be £2,455.3 million—a cash increase of £113.8 million, which is an increase of 4.9 per cent. over 1997–98.

Ms Lawrence

I thank the Minister for that information. Does he agree that the internal market, introduced or imposed on the NHS in Wales by the Tories, has set hospital against hospital and has completely failed patients in Wales? I welcome the move to abolish the internal market with the publication last week of the White Paper, "Putting Patients First", not least because it appears that that will save £50 million, which is currently spent on red tape, put it back into front-line patient care and restore co-operation, in place of competition.

Mr. Griffiths

I thank my hon. Friend for that question and for pointing out the very important step taken last week with the publication of our White Paper on abolishing the internal market in Wales. We estimate that it will save us about £50 million over the lifetime of a Parliament, which will go directly to patient care. By delaying the eighth wave of fundholding doctors, we have been able this year to put another £2.5 million into the health service. A great deal of that will go towards helping overcome the winter crisis and, of course, improving our cancer services.

Mr. Dafis

What are the projected deficits for the trusts in the Dyfed Powys area for the current year and for the next financial year? How much will be saved by the reconfiguration exercise in which the Secretary of State is currently involved? In my view, it will not be much. Is he prepared to say that those deficits can be recovered without serious additional money or cuts in services, in terms of quality or accessibility? If he is prepared to say that, does he expect anyone to believe him?

Mr. Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman will know that, right now, the Dyfed Powys health authority is in consultation with trusts in its areas about how it will deal with its estimated deficit this year of about £7 million. Obviously, it is for the trusts and the health authority to come forward with plans to deal with it. I shall be very interested in the outcome of those proposals, to see whether anything else is required of the Welsh Office. That is the position.

Mr. Rowlands

I warmly welcome the abolition of the internal market, which is hugely wasteful of health resources, but will my hon. Friend ensure that some of the savings will go into services in the Rhymney valley, which all recent surveys have demonstrated are woefully inadequate?

Mr. Griffiths

I assure my hon. Friend that I am very much aware of the underfunding of the health service in the Rhymney valley, which has been something of a problem for a number of years. The Gwent health authority is keen to make up for that, even if it has not been able to do so in the past year.

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