HC Deb 24 May 2000 vol 350 cc957-8
5. Mr. David Amess (Southend, West)

What discussions he has had with the First Secretary about the number of patients waiting over six months for an out-patient appointment. [122181]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. David Hanson)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I regularly meet the First Secretary and the Assembly Health and Social Services Secretary to discuss health issues in Wales. The subject of waiting lists and waiting times has, of course, been included in our discussions.

Mr. Amess

Is the Minister aware that many of my constituents in Southend, West complain about the problems that their Welsh relatives encounter in obtaining out-patient appointments? Will he explain to the House how it is that out-patient appointments have trebled since that dreadful day in May 1997? Will he take this opportunity to apologise to the Welsh people for the incompetence of this Government in mismanaging the health service?

Mr. Hanson

I will happily tell the hon. Gentleman's relatives in Southend, West—and in Basildon, if he has any left there—about the situation in Wales. More than 1,000 more people are treated by the national health service in Wales than when his Government left office. If he had taken an interest—when he represented Basildon in the previous Parliament—in the performance of the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague), he would have known that Wales lost 1,200 beds, waiting lists went up and GP numbers went down in that time. This Government have committed £1.3 billion over the next four years to help the very health service that his party would destroy.

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

In the discussions that my hon. Friend has held with the Secretary of State for Health, were the problems arising from the legacy in Wales of the Leader of the Opposition mentioned? When the right hon. Gentleman was Secretary of State for Wales, 1,200 beds were cut, there were 300 fewer nurses and midwives, and in-patient waiting lists grew by 5,800. Will not the extra £51 million being made available to tackle waiting-list problems help us in Wales to overcome that legacy? Will my hon. Friend publish further information on activity rates, which show that the health service in Wales is on the mend and getting better?

Mr. Hanson

I shall certainly consider publishing information on activity rates in the national health service in Wales. The record of the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) is there for all to see. When he ran the health service in Wales, he did what he will do if he ever runs the health service in the United Kingdom. He reduced the number of beds and nurses and cut investment in the health service.

The £1.3 billion that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has given to the national health service in Wales will lead to real improvements in that service this year, next year and in forthcoming years.

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