§ Mr. Heddle
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report the steps his Department has taken at national, regional, area and district level to review waiting list management as requested in particular in paragraphs 5 and 12 of the 1975 circular; and what regard has been paid to the recommendations contained in his Department's circular Health and Safety Council (15) 181 of August 1975 and the report by Professor R. B. Duthie's committee published on 12 March 1981 "Orthopaedic Services—Waiting Times for Out-Patients Appointment and Patient Treatment".
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
I assume my hon. Friend is referring to the Department's Health Service circular 229W (interim series) 181 of August 1975. The circular issued by our predecessors was directed to getting action taken locally by health authorities rather than by the Department itself. I understand that all regional health authorities submitted to the Department the summaries of district reports on reviews of waiting list management which were requested in paragraph 13 of the circular. It is because we were not satisfied with the progress achieved that, when we came into office, we endorsed the appointment of the working party chaired by Professor Duthie to review waiting times for orthopaedic services, this being the specialty with some of the most serious problems. As my hon. Friend is aware, we have strongly commended to health authorities the report of that working party as a basis for action to tackle the problem of long waiting times at district level.