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Health Service Expenditure

Volume 201: debated on Friday 20 December 1991

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to his written answer to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West, of 17 December, Official Report, column 137, what was the average annual rate of increase in national health service expenditure in Wales as measured in input unit costs (a) from 1974–75 to 1978–79 and (b) from 1979–80 to 1990–91.

The average increases were as follows:

  • a. 2·8 per cent. pa
  • b. 2·3 per cent. pa
However, I was interested in why the hon. Gentleman chose these dates and asked for input unit costs. Taking the dividing year as 1979–80 (the last year of the Labour Government spending programme) the figures are:

  • a. 1·7 per cent. pa
  • b. 2·4 per cent. pa

As I pointed out in the answer that I gave the hon. Gentleman on 17 December, changes in input volumes are an inadequate guide to the level of services the NHS can be expected to achieve since they do not reflect the continuing success of NHS management in increasing the efficiency with which it uses resources.

In two of the five years of the last Labour Government NHS spending adjusted by the GDP deflator actually fell. The increase in the five years of the last Labour Government in real terms was 9 per cent. compared with about 60 per cent. in 12 years under this Government No amount of mathematical ingenuity on the part of the hon. Gentleman can hide the fact that real terms increases in spending under the Government is double that of the last

Table 1

Cost per patient using a bed

Unit cost—£ per day

Hospital type B—acute general hospitals: group 1




Number of hospitals

Medical specialties:


Surgical specialties:

General surgery
Dental Specialties105·52200·76279·8810
Other surgical104·40113·43113·582

Maternity function


Psychiatric specialties

Mental handicap106·85106·85106·851

Other specialties:

GP (excluding maternity)1·611·611·611

Labour Government—a Labour Government who cut the hospital building programme and reduced the pay of doctors and nurses in real terms.