§ Mr. Grist
They certainly do, and they show the strain under which the Health Service is placed by an increase in demand and its success in meeting that demand. It is worth noting that during the period of the last Labour Government, in-patient cases increased by only 6 per cent. as opposed to 28 per cent. under this Government and that the number of new out-patients fell by 3 per cent. as opposed to rising by 20 per cent. under this Government.
§ Mr. Denzil Davies
Will the Under-Secretry of State look at the out-patient figures because there is a crisis in the dermatology service in south Wales? In my constituency it now takes up to two years to get an appointment to see a consultant dermatologist. Will the hon. Gentleman look at the figures again and provide some more money to ensure that dermatology does not remain the Cinderella service of the Health Service?
§ Mr. Raffan
Does my hon. Friend agree that that dramatic increase in the number of patients treated in Wales has been made possible by the massive increase in Government spending in Wales on the NHS, which has increased from£11 per week for every household in Wales in 1978–79 to £36 per week for every household in Wales in 1989–90? Does he also agree that the NHS White Paper proposals, such as the appointment of more consultants and giving GPs their choice of hospitals, will ensure that that trend continues and that more patients are treated more quickly in the future?
§ Mr. Grist
That is our precise intention—to give patients the choice, to give doctors the ability to offer the choice to their patients, and to provide the spur to the hospital services to make sure that choice is a reality. It is worth noting that under this Government the number of consultants has increased by 22.5 per cent., the number of registrars by more than 11 per cent., and the number of those directly concerned with patient care by more than 17 per cent. That is this Government's record.
Mr. Alan W. Williams
What advice does the Minister offer my constituent who is 83 years old and needs an eye operation? That gentleman has had severely deteriorating eyesight for many years, and now he cannot read a newspaper or watch television. His quality of life is being severely jeopardised. All he needs is an operation to remove scar tissue from the eye and a slight cataract for which he has been told by his consultant he will have to wait seven months. He is 83 years old, and there is a seven-month waiting list for what is really a minor 544 operation. The same consultant told him that, if he had it done privately, he could do the operation for him straight away at a cost of about £1,000.
§ Mr. Grist
I cannot give individual advice on such a case. If the hon. Gentleman writes to me with details, we will look into the matter. It is worth noting that under our proposals the general practitioner of the hon. Gentleman's constituent would be able to look around for other waiting lists that very often would be a great deal shorter, but about which at present he may be entirely ignorant. The hon. Gentleman describes precisely the sort of situation that we wish to bring to an end.
§ Mr. Gwilym Jones
Are not the very creditable increases in the number of patients being treated the real measure of the Government's commitment to continuing the expansion and improvement of the Health Service? Does my hon. Friend agree that that refutes the spurious claims about bed numbers? Because of the deployment of resources, under-utilised beds can reduce the number of people being treated.
§ Mr. Grist
Certainly the enormous rise in day cases under this Government, which is a part of modern medicine, has made a tremendous change in the use of beds. As I know myself, people can go in and out of hospital under modern medication at a speed that was almost undreamed of when most of us were young.
§ Mr. Michael
Rather than repeat statistics that he must know are misleading, will the Minister recognise that the health record of the Government, of which the Secretary of State has been a Member for 10 years, and their future health policies, which have been drawn up by a Cabinet Committee of which the Secretary of State was a member, were wholeheartedly rejected by the voters of the Vale of Glamorgan? Will the Secretary of State, therefore, exclude Wales from the proposals set out in the Health Service White Paper?
§ Mr. Grist
The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends gave misleading statistics. I believe that they will find, when the general election comes, that they have been rumbled. When we have a population with increasing health benefits, with more centenarians, with people living longer, better and more healthily, with more people being innoculated and vaccinated, and with people keeping their teeth longer, it staggers me that any hon. Member could say that the Health Service is failing under this Government.