HC Deb 11 December 1989 vol 163 cc656-7
11. Mr. Michael

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the chairmen of community health councils in Wales; and what topics were discussed.

Mr. Grist

We have received no request from community health council chairmen to meet them, although I would be happy to do so should the need arise.

Mr. Michael

Did the Minister seek a meeting, or was he afraid that they would ask him why he was entering into a period of so-called consultation on his proposal to undermine our system of community health councils in Wales, when that proposal had already been rejected? Surely the Minister must accept that it is manifest nonsense for a council with the word "community" in its name to represent views from areas as widespread as mid-Glamorgan, Dyfed, Powys and even South Glamorgan. Will he allow community health councils to continue to represent the health interests of communities, instead of forcing them to reconcile the needs of different communities, which should be a matter for health authorities and, ultimately, the Minister?

Mr. Grist

The hon. Gentleman has rather missed the point of our proposals, which, as he knows, are out to consultation. The community health councils should be strengthened by the change because they will be able to stand up and shadow their health authorities much more effectively and deploy their assets and finances to much greater effect on behalf of patients.

Mr. Win Griffiths

Is the Minister aware that Ogwr community health council is concerned about the fact that, because of a lack of staff to attend all the intensive care beds in the Princess of Wales hospital, one patient has been sent home three times when expecting an operation for cancer of the oesophagus, and another has been sent home once for the same reason? Will he arrange for extra funding to be made available to ensure that intensive care units throughout mid-Glamorgan are fully staffed?

Mr. Grist

I shall certainly consider the particular instance that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, although I believe that the intensive treatment unit at the Princess of Wales hospital has recently been affected by sickness among its staff.