§ Mr. Battle
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether it is his policy specifically to encourage health authorities to contract out pathology services;
(2) what plans his Department has to increase resources to health authorities to ensure they can improve the efficiency and quantity of laboratory services.
§ Mr. Dorrell
We have given no specific instructions to health authorities about the contracting out of pathology services or about their level of funding, since it is for each health authority to consider the organisation and level of laboratory provision it requires within its available resources. However, to help improve the efficiency and quality of these services we have given assistance to the Royal College of Pathologists to develop an accreditation scheme for pathology laboratories, and we have commented on the Audit Commission's proposals for the improvement of those services. We are also contributing to the cost of introducing a system of medical audit which will include the pathology discipline, and are funding additional schemes in the national external quality assessment schemes (NEQAS).