To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received concerning staff shortages in Welsh health authorities; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations about staff shortages in Welsh health authorities. This is an issue which is currently being addressed at both departmental and health authority levels.
When my hon. Friend discusses this matter with the health authorities, will he bear in mind the problems of Pembrokeshire health authority and the fact that we are short of staff because of the wages that are paid? Does he agree that there may well be a case for bringing the market into the wages of staff in the Health Service and paying more in areas where it is difficult to recruit staff?
My hon. Friend may indeed have something in what he says. My right hon. Friend and I discussed the issue with the district health authority chairman on 23 November. My hon. Friend may be interested to know that last year the Department established a manpower steering group to develop a comprehensive manpower strategy for the National Health Service in Wales. The group is giving attention to recruitment difficulties and my Department has requested the district health authorities to prepare a 10-year manpower resources plan to forestall future difficulties.