§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is aware that Mrs. Rita Ward of Northampton has been waiting for one and a half years for a gallstone operation under the National Health Service but was advised that she could have this immediately under a private operation on payment of £500; and whether he will investigate this case and cause an investigation to be made to ascertain how many similar cases are on record where persons are awaiting operations whilst private fee-paying patients are receiving immediate treatment in National Health Service hospitals.41W
§ Mr. Moyle
I understand from Northamptonshire Area Health Authority that Mrs. Ward was first nut on the waiting list on 28th June 1977. On 11th July, in answer to questions, her husband was told that there was no waiting list for private surgery in the hospital, that the hospital charges were £39.40p a day and that consultants' fees over and above these charges would have to be negotiated with the individual consultants. I am assured that at no time was a figure of £500 mentioned or suggested by any person at the hospital.
It remains true that in some areas and specialties paying patients with non-urgent conditions are able to secure earlier admission to NHS hospitals than NHS patients suffering from similar conditions. It was to deal with this inequitable practice that the Government secured the enactment of the Health Services Act 1976, which provides for the progressive withdrawal of pay bed authorisations within the NHS. Meanwhile, my right hon. Friend is consulting health authorities and others directly concerned about the Health Services Board's recommendations for the establishment of common waiting lists for paying and ordinary patients in NHS hospitals.