HC Deb 19 December 2001 vol 377 cc443-4W
Mr. Luff

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of surgical procedures on NHS patients in Worcestershire were carried out in private sector hospitals, in the most recent period of which figures are available; what plans he has to increase the use of the private sector in the county; and if he will make a statement. [23087]

Yvette Cooper

Information relating to surgical procedures carried out in private sector hospitals on national health service patients is not currently available. However, we have commissioned a report to assess the scale of independent sector usage at national and regional level which is due out next year. This survey does not allow analysis at a local level and consequently data specifically on Worcestershire will not be available. However, Worcestershire health authority advises that they are investing £1.2 million on transferring 200 orthopaedic patients to the private sector.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently announced a patient choice package which includes increasing use of the private sector. From July 2002, if a patient with coronary heart disease has been on an in-patient waiting list for over six months, they will be able to seek swifter treatment in either the private sector, in another European Union country or in a different NHS hospital.

From October 2002, the same option of seeking treatment elsewhere at the six month in-patient waiting list stage, will also apply to anyone living in the London area. The option will be further extended to all patients across England throughout 2002–03 and beyond in the form of pilot sites. By the end of 2005, all patients in any part of the country will be able to choose where their treatment takes place, and book their appointment at a convenient time through an electronic booking system.

Any decision to use private sector providers will be made on the basis of value for money, clinical need and all appropriate clinical standards must be maintained.

Dr. Fox

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS patients were treated in the private sector for each quarter of the last two years. [20861]

Mr. Hutton

Activity information collected from health authorities in the common information core includes in-patient, out-patient and residential care activity commissioned in the commercial, voluntary and non-national health service statutory sectors. This total cannot be separated into totals for the private sector only.