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Health Services

Volume 124: debated on Monday 7 December 1987

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10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proportion of health services in Wales are provided by (a) private medicine and (b) the National Health Service.

The information is not available in the precise form requested. However, there are in Wales 54 authorised pay beds in NHS hospitals and 212 beds in private hospitals; jointly these are equivalent to 1·23 per cent. of the NHS provision of 21,613 beds.

Will the Minister comment on Health Service developments in Carmarthen? It was announced in October that there was to be a private 50-bed hospital, costing £15 million—the first private hospital in Dyfed. The very next week the East Dyfed health authority announced that, because of financial constraints, it would have to shed 3 per cent. of its staff during the current financial year. Does that not reflect what is happening in our Health Service: that the Government are giving every encouragement and every incentive to private medicine but that the National Health Service is declining, by natural wastage?

The fact that somebody wants to open a private hospital in a particular area of the country does not say anything about National Health Service provision of health care. East Dyfed is receiving over £20 million for building the Llanelli hospital. There has been no lack of funds from central Government for the building of that hospital.

When Welsh health authorities are facing a serious financial crisis, when our hospitals fear a breakdown in services, when the Minister has already had to renege on his July commitment about hospital waiting lists, and when, on Friday, the Secretary of State issued a spending announcement showing that there are no plans even to meet fully the basic standstill needs of the Health Service, which the Minister knows full well include not only 4½ per cent. for inflation but the 2 per cent. extra that is needed to meet the cost of the aging population and technological change, how on earth can the Welsh Office issue a press release such as that entitled "Additional Resources for Health and Personal Social Services", which is utterly smug, misleading, indifferent and inept?

That was a long, prepared supplementary question. I should like to give just one alternative figure. The right hon. Gentleman was a Minister in the previous Labour Government. When he left office, expenditure per family on the Health Service was £15·84 per week. It is now £21·14 per week. That shows the growth. The right hon. Gentleman was a senior Minister in a Government who cut spending and the pay of nurses and practitioners. That is a disgraceful record, but he has the cheek to come here and declaim against us.