§ Mr. Kirkwood
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will make it his policy that no patients awaiting cardiac surgery in the Borders health board area will be put under pressure to accept referral to Health Care International in Clydebank unless they and their general practitioners are convinced that it is in the patients' best interests to do so;
(2) what consideration he or his ministerial colleagues have given to the waiting list initiative taken by the Borders health board in respect of the referral of Borders patients waiting for cardiac surgery to Health Care International in Clydebank; and if he will make a statement;
(3) what discussion was held between the NHS Executive in Scotland and the Borders health board before the recent initiative to refer Border patients awaiting cardiac surgery to HCI in Clydebank; and if he will make a statement;
(4) what assessment he has made of the standard of cardiac surgery in HCI in Clydebank relative to the range of treatment available at the Royal infirmary in Edinburgh; and if he will make a statement.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
[holding answer 27 January 1995]: This is a matter for Borders health board. It is appropriate for NHS purchasers to buy services from independent hospitals, in order to reduce waiting times for patients. The NHS in Scotland Management Executive was aware of Borders health board's proposal to purchase cardiac surgery services from HCI.