HC Deb 12 March 1981 vol 1000 cc394-5W
Mr. Lang

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is in a position to report on the outcome of the discussions with health boards about the possibility of abolishing districts and making improvements in management arrangements generally as promised in his statement of 28 July 1980.

3. Mr. Younger

Following my statement of 28 July 1980, which reported the outcome of my consideration of the responses received to the consultative document"The Structure and Management of the NHS in Scotland", officials of my Department have had discussions with representatives of eight health boards, and have received initial responses to letters from my Department to the other seven boards. The present position with regard to each of the groups of boards referred to in my previous statement is as follows:

Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley and Fife health boards:

In their evidence in response to the consultative document, each of these boards agreed that districts could be abolished. I am informing these boards that I expect them to take all action necessary to this end.

Greater Glasgow, Lothian, Lanarkshire, Argyll and Clyde, Tayside, Grampian and Highland health boards—the seven boards referred to in my earlier statement:

Although some of these boards see considerable difficulties in abolishing existing districts, all accept that further consideration should be given to management arrangements, bearing in mind my aims that districts should be abolished wherever possible and that the responsibility of managers at unit level should be increased. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State who has responsibility for health and social work is to meet the chairmen of the boards to discuss the situation generally with them, and to make clear to them again my concern that wherever local circumstances make it possible the district structure should be abolished. The boards will then report to my Department in due course.

Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland health boards:

These are all single district boards where the scope for major structural change does not exist. None the less, where there is opportunity for improving the present administrative structure along the lines envisaged in the consultative document I expect those boards to make the necessary changes.

In all cases where changes to management arrangements are being made, I am reminding boards of the need to ensure that staff are properly consulted. In the case of major structural change, there is a requirement on boards to consult local interests including the local health councils.

Boards' ability to make changes in their management arrangements will in part depend on the progress of relevant negotiations in the Whitley councils: but I hope very much that such changes as boards propose will not be delayed beyond early 1982. In the meantime, my Department will be issuing broad guidance to boards to assist them in the process of planning change within their areas.