HC Deb 09 February 1978 vol 943 cc671-2W
Mr. Patrick Jenkin

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the cut-backs in X-ray facilities in Norfolk hospitals due to shortage of resources.

Mr. Ennals

Shortage of consultant radiologists is a national problem and my Department holds regular discussions with the Royal College of Radiologists about how the position may be improved. It will take time before there can be substantial improvement, and meanwhile my Department must ensure a fair distribution by controlling the establishment of new posts in the various regions. The present establishment of consultant radiologist posts in East Anglia is slightly above the national average. Rationalisation of the deployment of posts within the region is a matter for the regional health authority; an additional consultant post in the speciality could be allocated to the region only at the expense of a region which is worse off.

The establishment of consultant radiologists in Norwich health district is slightly below the national average. The consultants recently told the local medical committee that they consider their work load too high. They proposed to put restrictions on direct references by general practitioners to their department, but I understand that this proposal has not been implemented, and is now under review. I understand that the problem is being discussed by the health authorities, the consultant radiologists and hospital and community doctors in Norwich health district, and that it is hoped that it will be possible to make arrangements by which all patients who need diagnostic X-ray examinations will get them.

The establishment of consultant radiologists in King's Lynn health district is not below the national average, but there is a problem in that district because the radiology department is split between two hospitals. I understand that discussions similar to those in Norwich are taking place.