§ Mr. Dobson
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to the answer of 25 November, Official Report, columns 429–32, if he will make a statement concerning the £28,774 written off as bad debts by the Lothian health board in 1984–85.
§ Mr. John MacKay
The sum written off represents £24,634 in respect of debts dating from 1975 of overseas visitors treated in hospitals in the health board area and £4,140 due by private patients which remained unpaid despite repeated efforts to effect recovery. In all cases it is no longer considered cost-effective to continue to pursue recovery. Guidance issued since 1981 advises health boards to seek deposits in line with estimated treatment costs to avoid bad debts arising, and I am satisfied that this is now the practice.