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.
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?
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.
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?
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.