§ Mr. Dobson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total debt of private patients to NHS hospitals was in 2001–02 in(a) London and (b) England. 
§ Mr. Lammy
[holding answer 12 February 2003]: National health service hospitals are encouraged to obtain deposits from private patients to lessen the risk that charges for treatment cannot be fully recovered.
The Department does not hold information centrally about the debt of private patients to NHS hospitals.