Eye Treatment

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th March 1988.

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Mr. Fearn:

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make funds available to reduce the waiting list for eye treatment in the Southport-Formby area.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

We are making an additional £90,000 available from the waiting list fund in 1987–88 and 1988–89 to reduce waiting times for eye treatment in Southport and Formby. Part will be used to train a registrar in Southport to carry out intra-ocular lens surgery. The rest will be allocated to neighbouring South Sefton health authority, which has contracted to treat 200 additional ophthalmology patients from the Southport and Formby list.

Mr. Fearn:

Is the Minister aware that the current waiting list is 700 in the Southport and Formby health authority? Does he know that 37 other hospitals are waiting for lasers? Will there be any more funds for laser machines?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that Southport now has a new Argon laser, which is speeding up treatment by changing the emphasis from in-patient care to day treatment. He will also know that a number of other initiatives have been taken by the authority to make inroads into this problem, some with Government help. This year a large new district general hospital is about to open in that health authority. It includes a purpose-built ophthmalogy unit, which will help further.

Photo of Mr Anthony Favell Mr Anthony Favell , Stockport

is not one of the great successes of the Government the increase in the number of patients receiving eye treatment? Are not people of 80 and 90 years of age, who would never have dreamt of seeing a consultant 15 or 20 years ago, now receiving treatment?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

Yes, that is true. We are anxious that still more should be done, and I have outlined some of the ways in which more is being done.

Photo of Joan Walley Joan Walley , Stoke-on-Trent North

If the Minister is so concerned about reducing waiting lists, what action will he take to deal with the 2,500 people who are waiting for orthopaedic operations in the North Staffordshire district health authority—

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

Order. This question is about eye treatment.

Photo of Joan Walley Joan Walley , Stoke-on-Trent North

That is exactly right. It is an eye-opener about waiting lists. People are having to wait a long time for hip operations. We in North Staffordshire want sufficient resources for eye treatment and for hip replacement operations.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

Whether the hon. Lady is primarily interested in orthopaedics—that is hips—or in eyes, I assure her that our efforts to reduce waiting lists will continue. Shortly, we shall he announcing the distribution of a further £30 million that will be available for that purpose next year.