HC Deb 08 April 1998 vol 310 c364W
Mr. Vaz

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he has issued to NHS trusts to reduce waiting lists for essential medical care. [37259]

Mr. Milburn

In reducing waiting lists we remain committed to the principles that the National Health Service must retain the capacity to respond promptly and effectively to emergencies and that clinical priority and the urgency of a patient's condition are the main factors which should determine how long patients on waiting lists wait for treatment. We have set the target that by April 1999 there will be fewer patients awaiting admission to hospital in England than the 1.16 million we inherited after the election. This will be the stepping stone to meeting our election pledge to reduce waiting lists to 100,000 below the level we inherited by the end of the present Parliament. £320 million of the extra £500 million for the NHS announced in the Budget will be spent directly on cutting waiting lists. Every health authority and trust will have to play their part and will be set an individual, challenging waiting list target to meet by 31 March 1999.