HC Deb 06 March 2002 vol 381 c423W
Mr. George Osborne

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to seek information from the chief executive of each NHS trust about possible inappropriate adjustments to in-patient waiting lists. [25489]

Mr. Hutton

I apologise to the hon. Member for the delay in responding to this question. I refer the hon. Member to the reply that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood (Mrs. Humble) on 5 March 2002,Official Report, column 192W.

Following publication of the National Audit Office report we commissioned the Audit Commission to initiate a system of spot-checks on waiting list statistics hospital-by-hospital.

The Government believe that this approach is the best way to ensure that such inappropriate adjustments do not happen again.

In addition, the Government are identifying a series of measures which will help identify at an early stage any trusts where there appears to be a problem in managing their waiting lists.

Data in waiting lists returns will continue to be routinely validated by the Government statistical service. Any discrepancies will be resolved directly with the trusts prior to finalising the figures for publication.

In future, any manager found to have deliberately distorted waiting figures will face dismissal on grounds of gross misconduct. This will be supported by a new code of conduct for NHS managers. Anyone who breaches that code of conduct will not be re-employed as a manager anywhere in the NHS.

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