HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc847-8
5. Mr. Jon Owen Jones (Cardiff, Central)

What consultations he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government concerning the Wanless report recommendations on alleviating bed blocking in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [129540]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)

My right hon. Friend and I have regular meetings with the Assembly Minister for Health, Jane Hutt. I met her yesterday and I shall meet her again today. I am also keeping in close touch with her on the issues arising from the Wanless report and I look forward to the Assembly's response and its implementation plan, to be announced later this year.

Mr. Jones

The Wanless report said that the health service in Wales was unsustainable. In particular, it highlighted the problems of bed blocking. It offered four options to deal with that problem and identified an immediate need. Given that the report was published in July—but had been given to the Minister in Wales five months earlier—and that some of the options require primary legislation, I should have thought that the Wales Office would have been prepared by now for those options. If it does not act now, we will face a delay of at least a year and half before any action is taken.

Mr. Touhig

It is important to bear it in mind that Wanless also said: The provision of health and social care is complex and multifaceted and cannot be summarised in a single sentence. The Public Accounts Committee report published this morning on bed blocking highlighted several of the problems that we face, and it will also inform any Government response. The Assembly Minister is preparing a response to Wanless and an implementation plan. If that requires any primary legislation, the Assembly will bid in the proper way and we will give every encouragement to ensure that what is needed to deliver an improvement in the health service in Wales is supported by the Government in Westminster.