§ Jon Trickett
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his estimate is of the average length of time which patients with suspected cancerous tumours wait to be scanned following reference by a hospital consultant. 
§ Yvette Cooper
[holding answer 16 April 2002]: We do not collect waiting times for scans. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans play an important role in the diagnosis of many cancers. The NHS Cancer Plan sets out new goals to reduce waiting times for cancer patients. The target is that by 520W 2005 no one should wait longer than two months from urgent General Practitioner referral to beginning cancer treatment except for a good clinical reason or through patient choice. This target period includes the time for necessary scans and diagnostic tests. Data collection on the waiting times to treatment targets will be introduced as we roll out the Cancer Plan waiting times targets.
We are also encouraging hospitals to streamline their services, for example by providing multi assessment one stop clinics where several tests can be carried out at the same visit. The length of time that a patient may have to wait for any scan is dependent on their clinical condition with emergency cases needing to be seen immediately whilst other cases can be carried out as quickly as possible. To increase the capacity of diagnostic services, funding has been made available for the provision of new and replacement scanners: 29 new MRI scanners, 81 CT scanners and over 330 pieces of equipment for breast screening delivered to the NHS since April 2000. In addition workforce initiatives are underway to develop new ways of working and improve recruitment and retention of staff.