asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps are being taken to minimise delay in supply of surgical appliances through the National Health Service.
Surgical appliances are usually supplied promptly, and I believe that the record of appliance contractors is a good one, bearing in mind that many of these appliances are, of necessity, individually tailor made. I am, however, anxious to eliminate any delay that can possibly be avoided. My Department is writing to health authorities and surgical appliance suppliers, asking them to do all they can to promote prompt delivery. We are also asking them to arrange for systematic progressing of orders by hospitals, where this is not already being done, and calling for reports to my Department where local progress chasing is not successful. These arrangements will be monitored as part of a programme of visits to hospitals and contractors by departmental staff.