Hospital Waiting Lists

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd May 1988.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West 12:00 am, 23rd May 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what new initiatives he is planning to reduce hospital waiting lists in (a) Gwent and (b) Wales.

Photo of Mr Ian Grist Mr Ian Grist , Cardiff Central

I am pleased to announce that the £1 million of waiting list funding in 1987–88 was associated with additional throughput of some 2,900 in-patients and day cases and 6,600 out-patients on the lists concerned. I congratulate district health authorities on that achievement. In view of that success, I am making available a further £1 million in the current financial year. District health authorities, including Gwent, have now submitted their waiting list action plans and officials of the National Health Service directorate will be monitoring progress towards their implementation.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West

The whole House will be glad to know that there was a small general improvement in waiting lists throughout Wales, but the increase was small and will take decades to work through. I remind the Minister of his promise less than a year ago that by now no patient would have to wait longer than a month for an urgent operation or longer than a year for a non-urgent operation. We welcome the Minister's announcement, but remind him that instead of there being no patients waiting, as he promised, 8,940 non-urgent cases are still waiting more than a year, and the number of urgent cases has increased, in spite of the £1 million, to 2,360. Does he agree that the great mountain of pain, suffering, anxiety and misery of the 121,000 on the waiting lists deserves greater effort, and not the same again?

Photo of Mr Ian Grist Mr Ian Grist , Cardiff Central

The hon. Gentleman does not give those who work in the Health Service the credit that he might give them. The number of in-patients treated in Wales has risen by 27 per cent. under this Government, and the number treated in Gwent has risen by 33 per cent. since we came to power. The increase in the number of people treated represents satisfied patients who were not being treated before.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

So that we might have the full picture of Health Service expenditure, can my hon. Friend give us comparative figures showing what was spent on the Health Service in Wales in 1979 and what is being spent this year?

Photo of Mr Ian Grist Mr Ian Grist , Cardiff Central

I must have those figures somewhere. About £394 million was being spent when we came to power. The figure is more than £1·2 billion now.

Dr. Thomas:

While the Minister is thinking about those figures, perhaps he might like to reflect on the effect on hospital waiting lists of closures and the rundown of facilities by Gwynedd health authority and his Department. I appreciate that the Minister is unable to comment on the matter, but is he aware that I represented the Minister of State at the demonstration at Llandudno last Saturday, where hundreds of people made their views clear? Will he assure us that he will take account of public opinion in Gwynedd before he comes to any decision?

Photo of Mr Ian Grist Mr Ian Grist , Cardiff Central

I assure the hon. Gentleman that all representations, whether from him, his friends or the constituents of my hon. Friend the Minister of State, will be taken great notice of.