HC Deb 15 January 1998 vol 304 c253W
Mr. Caton

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he expects to publish the White Paper on the future of the NHS in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [23782]

Mr. Ron Davies

Our White Paper on the future of the NHS in Wales, "Putting Patients First", is published today. The White Paper has been laid before Parliament and copies are also available in the Library of the House and in the Vote Office.

"Putting Patients First" fulfils the undertakings we made before coming into office. It abolishes the divisive internal market in the NHS and charts a course for NHS Wales which will restore it as a truly national service of quality, responsive to the needs of its patients.

Our objectives are clear. An NHS which is people centred; an NHS which is delivering quality services in a seamless and collaborative way; an NHS which makes full use of new technologies and makes best practice common practice. "Putting Patients First" provides the framework within which these objectives will be pursued. Fragmentation, inequality and bureaucracy will be replaced by integrated services, collaboration and improved efficiency, saving £50 million over the lifetime of this Parliament for reinvesting in patient care.

Health Authorities and NHS trusts will be retained with new duties and responsibilities for improving health and for working co-operatively with others. We will honour our commitment to reinforce the place of primary care through the creation of Local Health Groups. These will allow professionals to take the lead, in co-operation with others, in planning and providing services locally for the benefit of their patients. They will have budgets and new freedoms to use the available resources in the best interests of their patients. Through these Groups, all primary care professionals, social services departments and others will be able to address the needs of their patients, without the divisions and inequalities of the GP fundholding scheme.

"Putting Patients First" sets out our vision for the NHS in Wales with measures suited to Welsh needs. It lays the foundations for the work of the National Assembly and gives NHS Wales a clear framework within which to address the health of our people and improve the health services they are due.