HC Deb 24 June 1988 vol 135 cc746-7W
Mr. Galbraith

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give for each health board for each year since 1970 the mean in-patient and out-patient waiting time and two standard deviations.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Information on waiting times is available for health boards from 1975—the first full year of boards' operation. The mean waiting times for in-patient treatment are given in the table. They refer to heterogeneous groups of specialties, within each of which the distribution of waiting times is not symmetrical. In these circumstances, an overall standard deviation is not meaningful. The sharp increases in 1979 and 1983 reflect industrial action in the NHS. Mean waiting times for out-patients are not available.

establish the committee as an effective forum for negotiation, but progress has been disappointing. Moreover, from time to time in recent years we have received representations from both management and staff interests about the unsatisfactory nature of the present arrangements.

In the last two negotiation rounds the differing interests of the two sectors have been recognised by both management and staff interests with the creation of two separate negotiating groups. The 1987 negotiations resulted in two separate packages which reflected the differing priorities of the two sectors. In the 1988 negotiations a settlement has just been reached for the further education, but not for the centrally-funded, sector, and the expectation must be that in due course there will again be a different outcome affecting pay and conditions in the two sectors.

In the light of this evidence of the difficulties inherent in working within the present SJNC(FE), I intend taking the first legislative opportunity to abolish the committee. I do not wish to reach a conclusion at the present time on the precise form of any replacement negotiating machinery, as this is a matter on which the interests concerned in the two sectors will themselves have views.

My officials stand ready to assist the various parties in devising alternative arrangements which better reflect the needs of management and staff at all levels in the two sectors.

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