To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made towards achieving a formal financial agreement between his Department and the Department of Health and Social Security Service for the treatment of National Health Service patients in United Kingdom hospitals.
A financial arrangement between the two Departments has just been concluded. Essentially, the MOD will continue to treat NHS patients in service hospitals up to a specified baseline, broadly equating to the defence training requirement and accept the cost as a charge to Defence Votes. Any spare capacity above that baseline will be identified and offered to health authorities on a marginal extra cost basis to relieve NHS waiting lists and maximise the contribution of service hospitals to civilian health care. The national arrangement is a framework which sets out guidelines within which local contracts and planning agreements between service hospitals and health authorities will be promoted. Its implementation will depend on the active co-operation of health authorities and service hospitals. Both my right hon. Friend the Minister for Health and I will do all that we can to encourage this.