§ Bob Spink
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice he is making available to patients who have been waiting for surgical procedures on the NHS for six months or more on how they can use the Patient Choice Scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hutton
It is the responsibility of strategic health authorities (SHAs) to ensure that local arrangements are in place for offering choice of hospital to patients waiting longer than six months for surgery. "Guidance on Choice of Hospital" was issued in July 2003. It sets out the key responsibilities for national health service organisations in delivering choice to patients waiting longer than six months. The initial contact with patients should incorporate the followingPatients will be informed about how they will be provided with choice and the role of patient care advisors (PCAs).PCAs will explain the offer of choice, provide the necessary information to support the patient in making their choice and make the necessary arrangements if the offer is accepted. The PCA will be able to support the patient if any problems occur.Safeguards and security measures for confidentiality should be outlined to patients.