asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the number of patients requiring artificial limbs; and what is the average waiting period before limbs are supplied.
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mrs. Judith Hart)
At 31st October 176 patients had been measured for but had not received their first artificial limb, and 657 patients were awaiting a replacement limb. The waiting time varies, depending on clinical and other factors and any average period given would not be meaningful.
Is the Under-Secretary of State aware of the many complaints which many hon. Members have had about the waiting period for artificial limbs? Is she aware of the great concern and anxiety which this causes and the trouble which is caused both to employers and workmen because they cannot get back to employment as early as they ought? This is something which ought to be hurried on by her Department as much as possible.
I take the point made by my hon. Friend. I can assure him that I, too, am deeply concerned about the waiting period involved. We have made a number of efforts during the year, as a result of which there has been a considerable improvement in some directions, but I am by no means satisfied yet, and we are looking at the situation.
May I ask the hon. Lady whether all possible resources in Scotland are being fully utilised for this purpose? I have in mind the supply of artificial boots for artificial limbs, which are made by the Princess Marie Louise Hospital. Is the order book of that hospital completely full at the moment?
Most order books are full. We are looking very closely at the possibility of enlarging the field of production, and this is very relevant in speeding up the whole process.