§ Mr. Newton
As part of the waiting list initiative we are encouraging health authorities to make better and more up-to-date information about waiting lists and times widely available. This could include improvement to the flow of information between health authorities and will also provide general practitioners with information to help them decide where to refer their patients.
§ 120. Mr. Bellingham
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress his Department has made in reducing health services waiting lists over the past five years; and what new plans he has, or is considering, to reduce them further.
§ Mr. Newton
In the fives years from September 1982 to September 1987 waiting lists have fallen from 726,000 to 662,000 on a comparable basis, a reduction of 9 per cent. This is a reduction of 12 per cent. from the highest ever figure at March 1979.
In 1986 we launched the waiting list initiative, backed by a special waiting list fund of £25 million in 1987–88 and £30 million in 1988–89. Last year health authorities used the fund to treat some 100,000 additional in-patients and day cases and some 40,000 additional out-patients. This year they plan to treat a further 107,000 in-patients/day cases and 80,000 out-patients. Health authorities are also taking vigorous action locally, including setting targets for the reduction of excessive waiting time and developing local statements of policy for out-patient and in-patient waiting times.
The initiative will continue for two more years.