§ Dr. Gibson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to set up a new programme for the development of cardiac units in the UK. 
§ Ms Blears
[holding answer 21 June 2002]: The expansion plans for cardiac units in England are part of the comprehensive programme of development in cardiac services set out in the national service framework for coronary heart disease. The expansion programme is being pursued to ensure that heart patients are treated according to need rather than location. Consequently, investment is being focused on those parts of England with historically low capacity in cardiac surgery. Capital developments are taking place in Papworth, Wolverhampton, South Tees, Bristol, Sheffield, Blackpool, Liverpool, Central Manchester, South Manchester, Leeds and Plymouth. These developments will be completed in 2006. Any further expansion in capacity will be considered in terms of its ability to deliver the standards of care set out in the national service framework. In addition, from 1 July, patients who have been waiting for more than six months for a heart operation will be offered the choice of treatment elsewhere, which will enable more patients to be treated more quickly.