§ Dr. Fox
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to impose(a) geographical and (b) financial limits on the ability of patients to have greater choice over the location of their hospital treatment; 
(2) what elements of provision he envisaged constituting plurality of provision; and what proportion of each of those elements he envisaged in the final state of plurality he is aiming for as referred to in his speech to the Fabian Society; 
(3) what expansion of capacity is required to enable patients to have a choice of hospital for treatment; 
(4) how he intends to enable patients to have the choice of access to a local hospital as referred to in his speech to the Fabian Society; and what definition of local he uses in this context. 
§ Mr. Hutton
On 6 December 2001, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced proposals to give patients choice over where they are treated in the national health service.1077W
From July 2002, all patients who have been waiting more than six months for heart surgery will be offered a choice of treatment at another NHS hospital; a hospital in the private sector; or possibly a hospital abroad. Patients opting to stay with their current hospital will do so on the basis that they will wait no more than 12 months in total there.
By 2005, all patients and their general practitioners will be able to book hospital appointments at both a time and place that is convenient to the patient.
Proposals to increase the capacity of the NHS are set out in the NHS Plan. The proposals to increase choice are set out in the discussion paper "Extending Choice for Patients", copies of which are available in the Library.
§ Dr. Fox
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what IT changes will be required to enable patients to have information about the choices open to them described in the Secretary of State's speech to the Fabian Society; 
(2) what IT changes will be required to enable general practitioners to act as the navigators referred to in the Secretary of State's speech to the Fabian Society; 
(3) what IT investment will be required to allow general practitioners to offer patients hospital treatment at a time and place convenient to them. 
§ Mr. Hutton
An outline business case (OBC) has been developed, proposing a framework for implementing electronic booking systems. The OBC can be found at: www.doh.gov.uk/nhsplanbookingsystems/.
The framework was developed in consultation with stakeholders. It is based around local health communities and will allow them to implement locally based solutions within a consistent common national framework. It builds on the national information and information technology infrastructure.
Information on the estimated IT investment to implement electronic booking systems is in the OBC.