§ Mr. Dobson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will describe the process followed by his Department in validating hospital waiting list returns from health authorities;
(2) whether the process of validating hospital waiting list returns has been extended or changed in any way since 1979;
(3) whether the process of validating hospital waiting list returns resulted in returns being changed for any authorities or for national or regional totals; and by how much in each of the six-monthly lists issued since May 1979.
§ Mr. John Patten
The central validation process is as follows.A record is kept of all district waiting list returns received and reminders are sent to district health authorities to ensure that there are no outstanding returns. Each return is first checked for internal consistency and arithmetic erors. Each entry on the return is then compared with the corresponding entry on the previous two returns—that is, six months and one year earlier—and where large differences occur health authorities are asked to check the figures. No changes are made centrally except in response to any amendments received from health authorities and it is not always possible to tell whether these amendments are made as a result of a central request to check the figures or for local reasons. Regional and national summaries are issued only when district amendments have been incorporated. This process of central validation has remained unchanged since the district waiting list return was introduced in 1975.