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Health Authorities (Financial Deficits)

Volume 130: debated on Monday 21 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any proposals to help Welsh health authorities overcome their financial deficits.

This year supplementary revenue funding amounting to £23·3 million has been provided to district health authorities in Wales to help them meet financial pressures. This brings the cash increase in DHA revenue funding to £60·5 million, or 9·1 per cent., over the 1986–87 provision. Loans of £2·3 million have also been provided to the two authorities with cash flow problems.

Does the Minister agree that the situation for all health authorities in Wales is extremely serious? Is he aware that, as we approach the new financial year, Mid-Glamorgan area health authority already knows that, unless the Government fund in full the nurses' pay award, it will be £5 million short in the coming year? Does the Minister agree that most of the deficit finance problems of the Health Service in Wales are due to the Government's previous failure to fund properly the pay awards to the nurses?

The hon. Gentleman will remember that last year some 97 per cent. of the cost of the review body awards were funded by central Government and were, therefore, not met from health authority budgets. If Mid-Glamorgan area health authority had put into operation cost savings and tendering programmes, as it was urged to do, it would not be in this position.

How much less would be spent on the NHS in Wales if expenditure had remained at the 1979 percentage of gross domestic product, namely, 4·7 per cent. and not risen to today's level of 5·4 per cent. of GDP? The expenditure on the NHS in England and Wales is £2·9 billion. Will my hon. Friend tell us what the figure is for Wales alone?

Since the rise is about 35 per cent. in real terms I shall leave my hon. Friend to work out the mathematics of that one.