Operating Theatres

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th January 1989.

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Photo of Mr Colin Shepherd Mr Colin Shepherd , Hereford 12:00 am, 24th January 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to establish the costs of operating theatre procedures.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

Information on average costs per operating hour is being provided by health authorities for the first time for the 1987–88 financial year and this will be published this summer. Our preliminary view is that such costs will be lower than the £450 per hour estimated by the National Audit Office.

Photo of Mr Colin Shepherd Mr Colin Shepherd , Hereford

Does my hon. Friend agree that that information is vital to enable managements to plan their operating theatre utilisation? Does he also agree that if that information was coupled with an enhanced roll-over provision for finance from one year to the next, there could be substantially better theatre planning, which would mean a reduction in waiting lists and in the costs of operations? I urge my hon. Friend to press for an improvement in the roll-over provision.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

I can hold out no hope to my hon. Friend that we will change the percentage—the ability to carry forward up to half a per cent. of the combined revenue and capital limits. I agree that there is scope for improved planning. We need better financial and management information systems and clinicians in the Health Service need to become more involved in the management of resources, including operating theatre usage.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

When considering the costs involved in carrying out kidney transplants, will the Minister consider the allegation that, in the private sector, two Turkish men were paid £2,000 to provide their kidneys for transplant? What action is his Department taking to outlaw such procedures?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

The Government have made it plain that commercial trade in vital organs is absolutely abhorrent and unacceptable. I have asked Bloomsbury health authority to investigate the allegations.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames , Crawley

My hon. Friend will have to provide information not only about costs, but waiting lists. Will he ensure that information about the excellent practices of efficient theatres is disseminated throughout the country so that those authorities that lag behind can bring themselves up to scratch?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

Yes, we shall ensure that that is done. The waiting list initiative, which will be worth ?31 million in the next financial year, is likely to result in increased treatment for more than 100,000 in-patients.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

When the figures are available, will the Minister ensure that there is a health warning attached to them explaining how they are affected by operating sessions being stood down and patients being telephoned on the morning that they are due to go into hospital and being told that they cannot have their operations? By how much will such incidents affect the figures that the Minister will produce?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

About 10 per cent. of all operating theatre sessions are planned and then cancelled for a variety of reasons. The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the fact that there could be better planning by health authorities, surgeons and consultants in the use of operating theatres.

Photo of Derek Conway Derek Conway , Shrewsbury and Atcham

Is my hon. Friend aware that the operating theatre costs at the eye, ear and throat hospital in Shrewsbury would be greatly increased if the pre-med and recovery areas were not situated in corridors? It is time that the regional health authority was sacked or made to act on this disgraceful matter.

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

That is a matter for the local health authority concerned. However I assure my hon. Friend that I will pursue his point.

Photo of Sam Galbraith Sam Galbraith , Strathkelvin and Bearsden

I welcome the Minister to the Dispatch Box for the first time at Health questions. Does he agree that the most important factor of an operation is not its cost but its outcome as to mortality or morbidity? In the light of the review, what are the Government's plans for collecting information on mortality and morbidity and what considerations are they giving to making that information available, and in particular to whom?

Photo of Mr Roger Freeman Mr Roger Freeman , Kettering

The hon. Gentleman must await the National Health Service review for some detailed proposals. However, it is certainly the Department's policy to collect up-to-date statistics and I shall ensure that they are more regularly available to the House.