§ Ms. Coffey
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to make NHS trusts more accountable to local people; and if she will make a statement.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
National health service trusts are more accountable now than national health service provider units were under health authority management. They are required to hold an annual public meeting, and their business plans and annual reports are available to the public, as are the service contracts they make with health authorities. Each trust's local community health council has rights of access to it.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
I have placed a list of the chairmen and non-executive directors of third wave trusts which I have announced today in the Library.
NHS trusts have shown their worth. In their first year of operation, first wave trusts treated 8 per cent. more patients than in their previous year as directly managed hospitals. Such a figure clearly demonstrates that we now have a NHS which is better managed and able to treat more patients for the same level of resources. Trusts have made a key contribution to this improvement.
The third wave of trusts cannot come a moment too soon. But if they are to bring the benefits to patients and improvements in services which have become the hallmark of self-governing hospitals, then they must be properly led. The appointment of the right person as chairman is a crucial factor. He or she must also be supported by an imaginative team of non-executive directors able to contribute fresh insights into the running of the trust. The names I have announced today fit the bill. These chairmen and non-executive trust directors will bring a wealth of expertise and experience from outside the NHS which will have a direct impact on improving patient services.
A significantly higher number of women have been appointed to these posts. Forty per cent. of these new appointments are women, compared with 31 per cent. in the first and second waves. This enables us to make progress towards meeting our commitment under Opportunity 2000 to increase the number of women as members of health authorities and trusts to 35 per cent. by 1994.