HC Deb 06 March 2000 vol 345 cc495-6W
Mr. Menzies Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list(a) those targets of the Defence Secondary Care Agency for 1998–99 which (i) were and (ii) were not achieved, giving the factors affecting the outcome in each case and (b) action taken by the agency to improve target achievement performance in 1999–2000; and if he will make a statement. [111755]

Dr. Moonie

This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Secondary Care Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the right hon. and learned Member.

Letter from C. G. Callow to Mr. Menzies Campbell, dated 6 March 2000: Performance Against Key Targets 1. I am replying to your Question to the Secretary of State for Defence concerning the Defence Secondary Care Agency's (DSCA) performance in meeting its 1998/99 Key Targets and the steps the Agency is taking to improve upon this in 1999/2000. This matter falls within my area of responsibility as Chief Executive of the DSCA. 2. The Agency's Key Targets for 1998/99 and its performance in delivering these is set out on page 21 of the Agency's 1998/99 Annual Report, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House. The 1999/2000 Key Targets are shown on page 22. 3. I am aware that Key Targets are designed to set and stimulate year-on-year improvement in Agency performance and I am committed to meeting challenging targets for the DSCA. However, these targets must also be realistic. 4. In 1998/99 the DSCA believed that real performance in patient waiting times was masked by inadequate data reporting systems and that improvements would emerge both by better reporting and better achievement. Neither assumption materialised and it became clear that some targets were out of reach and that adjustments had to be made when setting the Agency's 1999/2000 Key Targets. Accordingly, the performance measurement in respect of Key Target 2 was reduced to the 1997/98 level. However, continuing shortages of clinical manpower, coupled with operational demands upon a limited resource, mean that achievement of the Agency's 1999/2000 Key Targets, even where reduced to 1997/98 levels, continues to pose a stiff challenge. 5. Nevertheless, as a result of great effort, the Agency has to date achieved its Key Target 1, which it regards as the highest priority for the Agency, and it is taking active steps to improve waiting time performance. A senior officer has been appointed with specific responsibility for performance management and the Agency meets regularly with representatives from the single Services to discuss ways of improving patient throughput, for example, by reducing the incidence of Service 'Did Not Attend' appointments. Other patient filtering mechanisms have also been introduced, for example, in the field of orthopaedics, the speciality most in demand by the Services. This aims to identify those patients whose conditions do not require them to see a consultant and who could be treated outwith the Agency by primary care physiotherapists, thereby enabling the DSCA to treat more patients. Again manpower difficulties, coupled with the need to introduce new financial accounting systems, have hindered progress in developing new efficiency targets for the Agency but this is being addressed. The Agency is making great strides in the field of Clinical Governance. Individual military training requirements have been reflected in the Agency's Corporate Training Plan and the Agency is discussing with the single Services ways of de-conflicting exercise requirements to spread the impact on the Agency, thus enabling it to meet its obligations in the area most easily. 6. I hope this is helpful.