HL Deb 13 October 2003 vol 653 cc97-8WA
Lord Jones

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What recent initiatives they have introduced to lessen waiting lists in the National Health Service.[HL4415]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner)

The Government have introduced a number of measures to reduce waiting lists. These include:

£50 million to tackle long waiting lists and times in National Health Service orthopaedic services;

£56 million to end long waits for NHS cataract operations. No cataract patient will wait more than three months by December 2004, with most areas achieving this by the summer of 2004;

the extension of the Modernisation Agency's "Action On" programme to cover general surgery, plastic surgery and urology will help deliver better access to patient-centred services in these specialties;

general practitioners with a special interest (GpwSI) taking referrals from fellow GPs for conditions in specialties such as ophthalmology, orthopaedics and dermatology. There are now some 1,250 GpwSIs, meaning that the NHS Plan target of 1,000 by 2004 has already been exceeded.

Figures for August 2003 showed the waiting list has fallen for the third successive month to 984,200— 173,800 below the level inherited in March 1997. The number of patients waiting over 12 months was 18,200 (99.8 per cent) lower than August 2002.