(2) pursuant to table 63b on page Ev 169 of her Department's Memorandum to the Health Committee, HC 1692-i, what assessment she has made of the reasons for the trend in the number of people who (a) self-defer and (b) are suspended from the waiting list;
(3) pursuant to table 68 on page Ev 178 of her Department's Memorandum to the Health Committee, HC 1692-i, what assessment she has made of the trend in the column ‘other referrals to first outpatient appointment (consultant led)'.
The number of patients removed from waiting lists rose steadily throughout the 1990s, peaking in 1999 then falling and stabilising. The waiting list rules are clear that patients should be removed from lists if they are no longer waiting or are unavailable for treatment. Patients should also be removed from a provider's list when they are transferred to a different provider for treatment.
The trends in self-deferrals and suspensions closely follow the trend in the inpatient waiting list. The list peaked in 1998, as did self-deferrals, with suspensions peaking in 1999. The reductions in recent years reflect improved management by the National Health Service, which has contributed to the smaller waiting lists and faster times that patients experience today.
The unusually high rates of growth in other referrals, those not from general practitioners or general dental practitioners, in the first three years of the period are likely to reflect improvements in data quality resulting from better recording of this type of activity.
Since 1998-99 the average growth in other referrals is 6 per cent. This growth may be explained by the increasing specialisation of consultants, with more patients being referred from consultant to consultant, and by increases in referrals to consultants from the likes of physiotherapists.