asked the Minister of Health when he expects every regional hospital board to have installed a linear accelerator for the treatment of cancer.
Does this not mean that there has been very dilatory progress in providing this megavoltage apparatus? Does it not mean that many hundreds and possibly thousands of cancer patients recommended for treatment which requires this apparatus are not able to get it now and will not be able to get it for some years?
No, Sir, because megavoltage treatment is also given by the cobalt machine and at least one of these is available in every region which has not got a linear accelerator.
asked the Minister of Health how many hospital units and similar institutions are available under the National Health Service for the specialised treatment of inoperable cancer; and what is the average size of these specialist institutions.
In England and Wales there are 64 hospitals where radiotherapy for cancer can be given. Chemotherapy is available in any larger general hospital.
Will my hon. Friend agree that in specialist institutes which are specialising solely in inoperable cancer there is a great opportunity for practical research by doctors into methods of treatment, and does she agree that we are lagging behind some other countries, notably America and West Germany, in the provision of these facilities, and will she and her right hon. Friend take steps to increase the number of complete specialist units rather than just departments of hospitals?
Medical opinion in this country does not favour concentrating such patients as my hon. Friend has in mind in specialised units. As I have explained, there are facilities within the hospital service for the treatment of these cases.