§ Mr. Ralph Howell
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what information he has as to linen losses in the National Health Service, and if he will place such information in the Library;
(2) whether he is satisfied that the necessary accounting procedures and expertise are available to his Department and to the National Health Service to ensure that the figure of £833,478 for 1980–81 as attributable to losses of equipment, property and stores due to theft, fraud and arson is an accurate reflection of the real level of such losses;
(3) if he will publish or place in the Library any recent reports on losses due to theft, fraud or arson in the National Health Service, which have been made since May 1979.
§ Mr. Fowler
[pursuant to his reply, 26 July, 1982, c. 388]: Detailed information about losses in the NHS, whether of linen or other items, is held locally by the health authorities and recorded in their accounts which are audited by the NHS statutory audit. Separate figures for the total losses of linen nationally are not available.
Summary information of losses reported to health authorities is held centrally and is published in "The Summarised Account of Health Authorities in England and Wales", a copy of which is in the Library.
There is some evidence that the figures quoted underestimate the real level of losses and there are certain aspects on which I think it necessary to ask health authorities to review their procedures. I shall shortly be consulting them about the further guidance I shall issue.
Apart from the recent brief report of the Association of Health Service Treasurers, the only other report recently prepared is a management services study of the control of 864W hospital linen. This will be available to health authorities as a back-up to the circular. A copy will be placed in the Library.