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Read Codes

Volume 281: debated on Tuesday 16 July 1996

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10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish his assessment of the rate of progress to be made in implementing Read codes in clinical settings in the NHS by 1 January (a) 1997, (b)1998 and (c) 1999. [35791]

I thank the Minister for his answer. In addition to the widespread concerns about the implementation of Read codes, will he confirm that his Department wrote to Dr. Read's private company, CAMS, last month stating, and I quote—[Horn. MEMBERS: "No."]—that there was a deliberate attempt—

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that there is no quoting during Question Time. Please paraphrase.

Will the Minister confirm that his Department wrote to Computer Aided Medical Supplies—Dr. Read's private company, which is getting a nice little earner out of the NHS—to say that there was a deliberate attempt to deceive the Department of Health's auditors? Does the Minister agree that the time has come to re-examine the relationship between the NHS's centre for coding and classification, which is run by Dr. Read, and CAMS, the company owned by Dr. Read? Should we now consider renaming CAMS as SCAM, as it is making not simply money but illegal money out of the NHS?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the National Audit Office is conducting a preliminary investigation into the arrangements between CAMS and the national health service precisely to examine value-for-money questions and questions of probity. We should wait until that report is clear to decide how we should proceed.