HC Deb 14 January 2003 vol 397 cc539-40
7. Mr. David Laws (Yeovil)

What his estimate is of the waiting time for MRI scans in the Yeovil constituency. [90195]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ms Hazel Blears)

I am advised by Dorset and Somerset strategic health authority that both East Somerset NHS trust and Taunton and Somerset NHS trust are currently meeting the target for urgent referrals for MRI scans as set by the NHS cancer plan. Waiting times for non-urgent MRI scans have fallen significantly at East Somerset NHS trust, although waiting times for non-urgent MRI scans at Taunton and Somerset NHS trust have risen in recent months.

Mr. Laws

Is the Minister not aware that waiting times for MRI scans at Yeovil hospital are longer than they were in 1997, and that at Musgrove Park hospital they are now 38 weeks? Are not some of the longest waiting times in the NHS for diagnostic tests and for consultant-to-consultant referrals? Would it not be better for the Government to publish the information nationally so that we do not have a distortion in priorities across the NHS?

Ms Blears

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that waiting times at Yeovil hospital, which serves his constituents, have been coming down recently. It is also due to get a new scanner in May, which will make the process even faster. It may be able to help out with waiting lists at Musgrove Park hospital, which has problems with non-urgent MRI scan waiting times, although it has just appointed two new radiographers and extended the working day from 8 o'clock in the morning to 8 o'clock at night. In addition, people are working on Saturday mornings. The combination of extra investment and reform to working practices is beginning to make a difference on this very important issue.

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