Hospital Waiting Lists (Hansard, 3 December 1990)
HC Deb 03 December 1990 vol 182 cc10-1
17. Mr. Flynn

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what initiatives he intends to announce on measures to reduce hospital waiting lists.

Mr. Grist

A number of initiatives to reduce waiting times and lists have already been successfully introduced at a cost of £6 million since 1986. As I told the hon. Gentleman on 29 October, I am currently considering what further means may be appropriate under the new arrangements for contracted health care from 1 April 1991.

Mr. Flynn

Does the Minister recall telling me in answer to a written parliamentary question that he did not know how many patients from Wales were currently being treated in hospitals outside Wales? As at least 3,000 beds are to be closed in the London district and elsewhere in England because of the Government's balance sheet first, patients last policy, how can he assess what will happen to patients on waiting lists in Wales next winter? Will it be a winter of waiting and suffering? Will he confirm or deny the speculation that his job is about to be ditched and that he is to be replaced by a representative of the loony right?

Mr. Grist

The hon. Gentleman started sensibly and finished foolishly. He will know that his health authority has been successful in reducing waiting times for urgent in and out-patients during the past 12 months. He should also be aware that calculations have been made about the flow of patients across borders, so that financing can be made available to cover that eventuality. He raised an interesting subject about the movement of patients, which is part of the contractual process to which I referred in my original answer.

Mr. Morgan

Does the Under-Secretary of State agree that one initiative that would cut hospital waiting lists would be to reject entirely the proposal submitted to him by South Glamorgan health authority to close six hospitals, three of them in my constituency? Does he further agree that he was expected to announce his decision on the matter on Friday 30 November, but has delayed his decision by several weeks? Is that a sign that we are to have the worst of all Christmas presents from the Secretary of State?

Mr. Grist

I think that the hon. Gentleman would wish to have a settlement as early as possible—although his last remark perhaps shows that he does not. He must appreciate that I cannot comment on what he said because the matter is under consideration.