§ Mr. Gwilym Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is(a) the highest, (b) the lowest and (c) the average of waiting lists for consultants with the health service in Wales, including where a consultant operates at more than one hospital or clinic; and what efforts are being made to transfer patients to consultants with shorter waiting lists.
§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
This information is not held centrally at present. The most detailed data currently available are for the main specialties at hospital level, as published in the Welsh hospital waiting list bulletin. However, the recently published patients charter sets out the Government's plans to improve the quality and range of information on healthcare services in Wales. In that is the guarantee that health authorities will make more404W widely available to GPs and patients information in respect of waiting times by consultant as well as by hospital and specialty. Patients from anywhere in Wales who are suffering from cataracts, varicose veins and hernias or who need hip or knee joint replacements may be referred to one of the four treatment centres we have established if they have been waiting for in-patient treatment for more than four months. When I visited in May the five hospitals which then had the highest in-patient waiting lists I discussed the problem with a wide range of staff. It appeared that there are marked differences in the length of lists between consultants and locations. Also there are instances where a consultant has out-patient clinics at two different hospitals within the same vicinity yet where the lengths of the two out-patient lists are markedly different.