HC Deb 24 March 1987 vol 113 c87W
Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement concerning the number of chest consultants in Wales.

Mr. Mark Robinson

As far as thoracic medicine is concerned, changes in the pattern of chest disease and in clinical practice have led to new methods of dealing with chest disorders, including tuberculosis. The treatment of chest disorders is not the province of one specialty alone. Consultants in general medicine, cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology and geriatrics are now also involved. The numbers of consultants in these specialties has increased markedly since 1979. For example, the number in general medicine has increased by 34 per cent. in total (from 56 to 75 posts), and by 20 per cent. in whole-time equivalents (from nearly 53 to above 63).

On matters of this kind, my Department is advised by the Welsh Medical and Dental Manpower Committee, composed of leading members of the medical profession in the Principality. If an authority wished to make any case to increase the number of consultants in thoracic medicine, then the committee would consider it and advise the Department accordingly. The fact that there have been no such bids recently indicates that these needs are properly catered for. The emphasis placed recently on the numbers of chest consultants remaining in Wales takes absolutely no account of the changes in medical practice that have taken place in the last 10 years under successive Governments whereby chest diseases are now treated by consultants with an interest in a range of specialties, which may include thoracic medicine. It should he remembered that this is not a new approach and follows from changes both in the pattern of lung disorders and in treatment. As a result the need for specialised chest consultants is much less than it was 10 years ago.