Mr. Anthony Coombs
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken to improve services for out-patients.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
Specific measures taken to improve services for out-patients include—
(i) issue of a report to health authorities in December 1989 on "Reducing Waiting Time in Out-Patients"; this work is being followed up by development of a visual simulation package for use in improving out-patient appointment systems;
(ii) issue to health authorities in March 1990 of a departmental study report on "The Role of Nurses and Other Non-Medical Staff in Out-patient Departments"; this report contains advice on changing the skill mix of qualified and non-qualified staff better to reflect the tasks required and to make best use of available resources;
(iii) a series of six demonstration projects has been initiated by the Department at a cost of £750,000 to encourage improvements to the quality of services including upgrading of the physical environment, to complement improvement in services for patients including more efficient appointment systems. The results will be disseminated as good practice advice to the Health Service later this year. A further series of projects are being planned in 1990–91.