National Health Service

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st October 1983.

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Photo of Dr John Marek Dr John Marek , Wrexham 12:00 am, 31st October 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will increase the level of funding for the National Health Service in Wales and in particular for the Clwyd area health authority.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

Since 1979 the Government have provided an increase in growth in funds of some 9 per cent. for the Health Service in Wales as a whole and more than 15 per cent.—or £9·2 million—in the revenue resources of the Clwyd health authority. These figures allow for pay and price changes. The level of financial resources to be provided next year has not yet been decided.

Photo of Dr John Marek Dr John Marek , Wrexham

The Minister's statement will go some way towards redressing the balance for the Clwyd health authority. As Glan Clwyd hospital is having to take many more patients than was expected initially, and as demands on the Health Service are increasing because of changes in the population, will the hon. Gentleman undertake to give the equalisation money to the Clwyd area health authority next year as he has done this year? Will he also use his influence to ensure that the under-financing of area health authorities in Wales vis-a-vis equivalent authorities in England will cease as soon as possible?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman appreciates what we have done for Clwyd. We appreciate the excellence of the Ysbyty Glan Clwyd hospital, but, with regard to the formula on which the revenue consequences of capital schemes are decided, we cannot differentiate between this hospital and any other. We have promised to carry out equalisation of funding over three years.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Clwyd North West

In view of the attempts by the Labour party to spread alarm and despondency throughout the National Health Service in Wales, will my hon. Friend say whether, during this period, there has been any increase in the number of patients treated and in the total number of staff?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

Yes, there has been an increase. The number of inpatients treated in Wales has increased by 5·9 per cent.—7·9 per cent. in Clwyd. The number of outpatient attendances in Wales has increased by 8·6 per cent.—11·5 per cent. in Clwyd. There has been an increase in the total National Health Service staffing in Wales of 7·8 per cent.—12·3 per cent. in Clwyd.

Photo of Mr Barry Jones Mr Barry Jones Shadow Secretary of State

The Under-Secretary of State now has the chance to dispel the alarm and despondency. Will he guarantee that the people of Deeside will have their community hospital and that it will be built on time?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

That is not a matter for me. I have today written to the hon. Gentleman about it. This is a matter for the health authority and, if my memory serves me right, it has a start schedule for the hospital for 1986–87.

Photo of Mr Donald Coleman Mr Donald Coleman , Neath

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is his assessment of the effects of the cut of £6·5 million in the financing of the Health Service in Wales.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

The principal effect is that the increase in total provision for revenue expenditure on hospital and community health services over last year's level, taking account of pay and price rises, will be 1·5 per cent.

Photo of Mr Donald Coleman Mr Donald Coleman , Neath

May I remind the Under-Secretary of State of recent television reports which showed expenditure on health care in Britain to be the lowest among Western nations and the proportion of expenditure on administration to be significantly lower in Britain than elsewhere? How can the hon. Gentleman reconcile what he has said today in answer to this question and to the previous one with the fact that consultancy posts are not being filled——

Photo of Mr Donald Coleman Mr Donald Coleman , Neath

—and that units are not being opened—for example, the next phase of the Singleton hospital in Swansea?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

The figures that I gave to the House earlier are correct. More money is being spent on the Health Service today than when we inherited it from the Labour Government in 1979. I find the hon. Gentleman's comparisons dubious. If he is referring to reports with which NUPE has recently been associated in Wales, I suggest that the documents should be retitled "Lies, damned lies and NUPE".

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands , Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

The Under-Secretary of State's description of the Health Service in Wales does not accord with practical experience. Will the Minister give the waiting list figures for geriatric beds? Is he aware of the perinatal infant fatality rates in many of our communities? Instead of producing these complacent answers, why does not the Minister recognise that a major crisis in the Health Service faces many of our communities?

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conwy

I can give the hon. Gentleman the waiting list figures. He will realise when I give them that we have made considerable progress in reducing them between 1979 and March 1982. The total inpatient figure for March 1979 was 39,527. By March 1982 we had reduced it to 32,628. We then had the industrial dispute, and of course waiting lists have increased since then.

Photo of Mr Raymond Powell Mr Raymond Powell , Ogmore

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask you to request the Minister to use parliamentary language? In reply to a supplementary question he used unparliamentary language, and that is not allowed in this Chamber.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) is right to draw this point to my attention. The Minister was not attributing a lie to an individual hon. Member, which would certainly have been out of order; nevertheless, I think his was a phrase that we should avoid in this Chamber.