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Waiting List Fund

Volume 129: debated on Thursday 10 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is in a position to publish the allocations to regional health authorities from the waiting list fund for 1988–89; and if he will make a statement.

The allocations to regional health authorities from the waiting list fund for 1988–89 are:

RegionAllocation (£ million)
Northern1·925
Yorkshire2·072
Trent2·845
East Anglian1·046
North West Thames2·316
North East Thames2·637
South East Thames2·350

Region

Allocation (£ million)

South West Thames1·853
Wessex1·609
Oxford1·163
South Western1·915
West Midlands3·304
Mersey1·633
North Western2·531

This is the second phase of the waiting list initiative. The allocation I have announced today will build upon the success and experience of the first year and will allow at least 100,000 additional patients to be treated from the waiting lists. We have had some very high-quality bids from regions who have selected for support projects aimed at having the greatest impact on the worst problems.

The regional reports we have received show clearly that the cause of excessive waiting lists varies from district to district and specialty to specialty. Long waiting times have no simple or single cause. Some are capable of improvement within existing resources and district health authorities are already taking action on them.

There are other problems, however, where most progress can be made quickest with the injection of small amounts of additional funding. Already this year we are on course for treating some 100,000 additional patients in this way. For next year we have asked regions to concentrate in particular on patients who have been waiting excessively for treatment, especially for serious and disabling conditions. Some of the projects supported are for cardiac surgery, others for hip replacements and cataract operations. All types of typical waiting list cases are represented from gynaecological operations to ear, nose and throat operations for children.

The waiting list initiative has achieved the active involvement of clinicians, general practitioners, health authorities and health service management. All these people are using their imagination, ingenuity and good will to focus on one of the most long standing problems of the health service. I warmly congratulate them on that. We now have plans to make effective use of the £30 million for next year. We intend the initiative to continue for a further two years after that.