§ Mr. Simon Mahon
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what regional imbalance exists in the treatment of rheumatism at consultant levels; and what steps he is taking to improve the situation.
§ Mr. Alison
Although 71 of the 119 consultants—in terms of whole-time equivalents—in the specialty of rheumatology and physical medicine in England work in the metropolitan regions this is not a reliable indicator of regional imbalance in the provision of treatment because treatment of rheumatism is also provided by consultants in other specialties. Nevertheless, many more consultants specialising in rheumatology and physical medicine are needed, especially in the non-metropolitan regions. New planning arrangements introduced last year will help to bring this about.