HC Deb 27 July 1988 vol 138 cc393-4
5. Mr. Neil Hamilton

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what effect the new Scottish performance indicators package for National Health Service managers is expected to have on waiting lists.

Mr. Rifkind

The indicators will help to identify areas where management action is required to improve performance and to speed up the waiting list reductions, which have been stimulated by the extra money that I have made available.

Mr. Hamilton

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, although the performance indicator package is welcome, we still have a long way to go? The National Health Service is still flying blind, in as much as the cost of inputs is largely unknown and the value of outputs is largely unassessed. We need to go rather further than we have.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of a pamphlet that has been published today entitled "The NHS—a suitable case for treatment", which was written by the No Turning Back Group of Conservative Members and edited by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth)?[Interruption.] I know that that name has the same effect on Opposition Members as mirrors do on vampires, and therefore that it will appeal to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. The essence of the argument is that we shall not solve the problems of the National Health Service until we move towards an internal market where hospitals——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Make it brief, please.

Mr. Hamilton

—sell their services to the district health authorities. It is only in that way that we shall improve the Health Service in the long term.

Mr. Rifkind

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his ingenious way of publicising the document to which he referred. Naturally, I look forward to reading and studying its recommendations. The concept of an internal market within the Health Service is of increasing interest among those who work within it as a way of ensuring better service for the patients with the resources that are available.

Dr. Moonie

I am sure that the Secretary of State, unlike his hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Mr. Hamilton), is well aware that a package of statistics will not improve waiting lists in Scotland. Does he agree that one way in which they can be improved is to back the findings of the Select Committee on Social Services, which has a majority of Conservative Members, and provide the resources that we have identified the NHS needs to perform its work adequately?

Mr. Rifkind

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Scottish Office does just that. For example, in the course of the current year we have allocated an extra £2 million to deal with waiting lists, the very subject with which his question deals, and, as a consequence, the number of patients treated in 1988–89 has been increased by 16,000 out-patients, 6,000 in-patients and over 3,000 day cases. We are seeking to undo the damage caused by the industrial action in the NHS in Scotland in earlier years, which led to an increase in waiting lists of some 30,000.

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