HL Deb 10 February 2004 vol 656 cc147-8WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How overall waiting times for general ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging scans have changed since the Audit Commission report of August 2002; and whether they will ask the new Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection to monitor these waiting times every six months. [HL848]

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

Data are not collected centrally on waiting times for ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Waiting times are directly influenced by the availability of equipment and specialist staff and we are investing in both.

We are providing unprecedented funding for new equipment. Since the Audit Commission data were collated in March 2001, there are now 131 new computed tomography scanners and 39 new MRI scanners in use in the National Health Service. We have also introduced major new initiatives to expand the workforce and streamline care. These include increasing training places for radiologists and radiographers and schemes to bring radiographers back into the workforce.

The Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection (CHAI) will be operational from April 2004. As an independent organisation, it will be for CHAI to decide whether it would wish to monitor waiting times in the manner suggested.