HC Deb 19 March 1998 vol 308 c686W
Mr. Russell Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to reduce waiting lists in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. [35529]

Mr. Galbraith

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on Tuesday 17 March 1998,Official Report, column 1112, that additional funds would be allocated to the National Health Service including £44.5 million in Scotland specifically aimed at tackling the problem of waiting lists.

We shall be allocating £20 million of that money at the beginning of April to Health Boards in Scotland with a request that they should draw up comprehensive plans for tackling waiting lists. The initial priority will be to tackle the number of people waiting for in-patient treatment, but I shall also expect them to look at out-patient referrals.

In order to push forward this work, I shall be appointing a Support Force under the Chairmanship of Mr. Tom Divers, General Manager, Lanarkshire Health Board and including as members Mr. Douglas Harper, Medical Director, Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary NHS Trust; Mrs. Lesley Summerhill, Director of Nursing, Dundee Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr. Erik Jespersen, General Practitioner, Oban; and Mr. Dermot McKeown, Consultant Anaesthetist, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh NHS Trust. The Support Force will be asked to review the plans to be submitted by Health Boards, to pursue particular problem areas, to monitor the progress of Health Boards and Trusts towards reducing waiting lists and to identify and disseminate good practice in managing waiting lists wherever possible.

Of the remaining resources, £4.5 million will be retained as moneys to be paid to Trusts which perform well and achieve their targets quickly and efficiently. The money would be available for purchases of equipment and other facilities in line with strategic requirements for the Trust.

The remaining £20 million will be used to fund particular initiatives or resolve particular problems identified by the Support Force which require additional funding, and to influence more strategic change in service delivery to achieve long-term reductions in waiting lists.