I regret that the numbers of pay beds available on a given day are not know centrally. I have however, completed my review of pay beds, which was designed to avoid wastage of beds and make better use of them for National Health Service patients. I have informed hospital boards of my decisions. The number of pay beds before the review was 5,764. The number now authorised is 4,379 which should meet the present demand for such beds.
I will, with permission, circulate the figures for each region in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this drastic reduction has been carried out against the opposition of the medical profession? Is it part of a concerted policy against pay beds in hospitals? Does he realise that, if he continues to conduct this campaign against private medicine, he will drive yet more doctors out of the country?
I have made it clear to the medical profession throughout, and I have kept it informed of the purpose and progress of the review, that the object is not to withdraw facilities for private practice but to bring about a situation in which pressure on pay beds more nearly equals the pressure on nonpaying beds.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that his reply means that the use of very much more single bed accommodation is now being determined by medical and social reasons rather than by pure commercial ones? Can he assure the House that this tendency will continue in the years ahead?
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, if he were to reduce the price of pay beds instead of increasing it as he has done, more people would be anxious to use those beds? Instead, they are in the millionaire class.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that he is to be congratulated on his statement, especially since we have a waiting list of about 500,000 people for hospital beds? Will he look again to see whether he could not reduce the number of pay beds still further?
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is a stupid and farcical philosophy that people can go into shops to get what they want or obtain services they want while it is a crime in the Government's view to pay for medical services?
Following are the figures:
|SUMMARY OF RESULTS OF PAY BED REVIEW BY REGIONS|
|Region (including associated Teaching Hospital)||Pay beds before the Review||Pay beds now authorised|
|North West Metropolitan*||303||241|
|North East Metropolitan*||225||156|
|South East Metropolitan*||350||257|
|South West Metropolitan*||301||229|
|London Teaching Hospitals||959||869|
|* Excluding Teaching Hospitals|