§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
I understand that the main health authorities served by Northwick Park hospital have all placed contracts specifying that those waiting longest should receive priority for treatment.
§ Mr. Dykes
Although this is obviously a matter for the hospital management and the regional health authority, will my hon. Friend's Department look into this matter and keep an eye on things, because the sombre reality is that, other than those needing acute emergency operations or planned treatment, no one was admitted in the first quarter of the year to Northwick Park hospital? That situation is extremely unsatisfactory. Will my hon. Friend discuss with the hospital and the RHA the possibility of a timed admission system such as that which has already been introduced by the South Western regional health authority?
§ Mrs. Bottomley
I hope that my hon. Friend will find that the clear priority of tackling long waiting lists throughout the NHS translates into action on behalf of his constituents. Under the new contracting arrangements, it is possible to specify waiting times as one of the quality conditions. I understand that that is precisely what is happening in the hospital to which my hon. Friend referred. North West Thames health authority has made it clear that no patient should have to wait longer than two years for treatment. That will apply to patients who do not have clear clinical priority. My hon. Friend mentioned South Western regional health authority moving to timed admissions instead of waiting lists. We hope that many other local health authorities will follow that example.