§ Mr. Maples
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond), on 5 May 1998,Official Report, columns 347–48, concerning hospital waiting times, for how many trusts figures were supplied, what assessment he has made of the reliability and accuracy of the data he published on 1 April and if he will provide a breakdown of the ways in which the patients who had been on the waiting list for more than 18 months prior to 1 April were removed from the waiting list. 
§ Mr. Milburn
As I made clear in my reply to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) of 5 May 1998,Official Report, columns 347–48, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State based his announcement about the number of patients waiting longer than 18 months on 31 March on management intelligence. This was obtained by regional offices of the National Health Service Executive as a special exercise as part of their performance management function. Provisional waiting list/time information for 31 March 1998, based on the well-established series of quarterly returns from health authorities and trusts, will be published in week commencing 18 May 1998. Information on removals from waiting lists collected centrally does not differentiate between the various reasons for removal, nor does it show how long patients had been waiting at the time of removal.