A number of hon. Members have made representations on financial and staffing resources in the region. I am glad to be able to announce today that we have agreed the region's proposed allocation of additional funds for 1987–88 from the special fund announced by my right hon. Friend last November. This will give an additional £435,000 to north Manchester, £290,000 to central Manchester, £73,000 to south Manchester, £246,000 to Salford and £11,000 to Tameside and Glossop. In that part of the north-west covered by Mersey health region, there will be £400,000 extra for Liverpool, £200,000 for St. Helens and Knowsley, and £200,000 for south Sefton.
Is the Minister aware that, at a recent meeting of the north-west regional community health councils, each body complained about under-funding and staff shortages? Will the Minister admit that, even with the moneys that he announced today, central Manchester region is still talking about cutting one ward out of existence and that south Manchester still has a nursing shortage that has been described as dangerous? Will the Minister come clean with the House and say that not enough money is going into the Health Service in the north-west region and that we need more money, or will he admit that the Government's priorities are tax cuts and not ill people?
One of the Government's priorities has been to ensure the fairer distribution of NHS resources around the country. The north-west region and, indeed, the Mersey region have significantly gained from the Government's policies. The additional money that I announced today has been designed to help and will help transitional problems.
May I stress that not all hon. Members wish to carp at the Minister's announcement, but that some sincerely thank him for it? It is in addition to a substantial capital increase in the north-west, which is several percentage points above the level of the nation as a whole.
Will the Minister explain how the money that he announced today — which is obviously welcome — will help Manchester children's hospital? A substantial number of children await bone marrow transplant operations, which they cannot have because of a lack of nursing staff. Will the extra money mean that nurses are available to ensure that such essential work can be carried out?
The hon. Gentleman is right to suggest that not all the problems are financial but that there is also a nursing shortage. We are examining that problem. We have looked at the problem in some parts of the north-west with a view to trying to determine appropriate action.
I congratulate my hon. Friend on providing treatment for an extra 22,000 patients in the north-west as a consequence of his announcement. May I impress upon him that my constituents in west Lancashire are grateful for the £118,000 that will provide 300 additional hip replacements in the next 12 months. It will tackle one of the major problems in our part of the world—that is, hip replacement surgery.
Yes, indeed. I emphasise that the allocations that I announced today are separate from the waiting list allocations, which will also do a great deal to help throughout the north-west.
Will the Minister confirm that. by the criteria laid down by his predecessor in a parliamentary answer, compared with 1979–80 the north western region is now cumulatively £31 million short of what it should have received? Will he also confirm that the unpublished waiting list figures held by the north western region show an increase and that the Preston health authority now has the fourth longest waiting list in the country? Finally, will he confirm the rumour that at Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport on the evening of Tuesday of last week six emergency operations had to be delayed because no nurses were available to work in the theatre?
Will my hon. Friend confirm that spending on the National Health Service in the north-west is higher than it has ever been before? If it is cuts that people are interested in, will he point out to Opposition Members the figures for 1977, when the Labour Government inflicted the worst cuts known in the history of the National Health Service?