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Volume 466: debated on Thursday 23 June 1949

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asked the Minister of Health why William Barnes, of 10, Faraday Avenue, Sidcup, who had his eyes tested on 26th November, 1948, is still without glasses after six months and five days.


asked the Minister of Health why Mr. W. R. Hands, 164, Fenton Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, who is 83 years old, has not yet received glasses under the National Health Scheme which he urgently needs, and for which he has been waiting since November, 1948.

hospital boards; and if he will now publish a list showing the numbers of patients on each list as at the last convenient date.

Yes, Sir, but as the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is the Minister aware of the deep anxiety amongst the public and amongst doctors at the length of waiting lists, and will he take some steps to grapple with that situation?

I have already asked the Central Health Services Council to inquire into what urgently can be done in this matter, but it would be quite a mistake to say that the lists are unusually or abnormally long.

Can my right hon. Friend say how these lists compare with the lists before the National Health Service came into operation?

The answer to that is that the information was never accurate and we could not make a comparison, but we know they were very long lists.

Following is the answer:

I refer the hon. Members to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) on 19th May.

Is not that answer evidence of the inability of this Government to fulfil their promises?

All arrangements are being made for the production of spectacle lenses at the present time, and more than 50 per cent. more are being produced than was the case before 5th July. Most of the lenses are provided by private enterprise.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these typical delays are due to shortages of spectacle lenses, and is he doing anything to bring in supplies from abroad and particularly from the soft currency areas, to meet this demand?

Yes, we have purchased lenses from abroad in order to meet the unusual demand, and we are using all the resources at our disposal.

Is the Minister aware that there are some people, who, realising the shortage of lenses, attend their opticians as private patients and so get their glasses in five or six weeks by paying for them, while others have to wait six or seven months?

Is it not a fact that my right hon. Friend has been in correspondence with my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. G. Wallace) on the subject of Mr. Barnes' case in view of the fact that Mr. Barnes is a constituent of my hon. Friend?