HC Deb 10 December 2003 vol 415 c1050
7. Mr. Jon Owen Jones (Cardiff, Central) (Lab)

What discussions he has had with National Assembly for Wales Secretaries concerning progress in reducing waiting times. [142075]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)

In the last fortnight, I have met both the First Minister and the Health Minister and discussed waiting times in Wales.

Mr. Jones

When my right hon. Friend next meets the Health Minister in Wales, will he bring to her attention the excellent chief executive's report on the health service in England, which speaks of increased new capacity, rapidly reducing waiting times and increased choice? Does he agree that one of the great benefits of devolution is that it allows the Governments in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast and London to compare the success of their policies, and that the most successful should be adopted?

Mr. Hain

I agree that we can learn from each other. My hon. Friend will understand that, under the Labour Government, the health budget in Wales will have doubled by next year compared with what we inherited from the Tories. We are seeing nearly 200,000 more patients than when we took over from the Tories, recruiting more staff, including nurses, consultants and doctors, and building more hospitals—10 new hospitals are being built, compared with 70 closed under the Tories. In addition, waiting times in key areas are decreasing.