§ Mr. Wray
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if doctors will continue to have the same choice when they purchase orthopaedic appliances following the Common Services Agency's takeover of the allocation of contracts from health boards;
(2) what advice was taken from doctors regarding the decision to transfer the purchasing of orthopaedic apliances from the health boards to the Common Services Agency;
(3) what savings he expects will be made following the Common Services Agency's takeover of the allocation of contracts for the purchase of orthopaedic appliances.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
The purchasing of orthopaedic appliances continues to be the responsibility of the relevant health boards. The supplies division of the Common Services Agency acts on their behalf in the arrangement of contracts for the supply of orthopaedic appliances, as for many other commodities bought by the Health Service. The new contracts arranged by the Common Services Agency, which come into effect on 1 July, were entered into on the advice of a panel of health board experts including a consultant orthopaedic surgeon from Greater Glasgow health board. The contracts give doctors access to the same range of items as at present and each health board has a choice of suppliers for most items.
The contracts include special clauses designed to ensure that the appliances are of good quality and it is expected that patient satisfaction will be improved as a result. The main purpose of the new contracts is to improve quality, but they will also make significant savings compared with current costs. The precise amount will depend on the number of appliances of various types which are bought under the new contracts but is provisionally estimated at approximately £1 million.