§ 17. Lady Olga Maitland
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made under the patients charter on outpatient waiting times; and how she proposes to strengthen the charter in this area.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
We are committed to reducing all waiting times. Since 1 April 1992 the patients charter has required health authorities to set and publish local charter standards for waiting time for first out-patient appointments for each hospital, specialty and consultant. On 13 April 1994 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that a national target will be set for the length of time patients have to wait for their first out-patient appointment. Further details will be announced later this year.