Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220
MONDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2001
220. The specialist centres we have been hearing
about, will they also be
(Mr Crisp) Specialist centres, not necessarily. For
example, one that is being looked at which is being developed
in the Middlesex in London is looking at just what is the best
way to do it and what is the best way to use facilities.
221. Looking at page 22, Sir John, you indicated
that some trusts inappropriately adjusted their waiting list figures,
I presume that means they cooked the books in some way or another,
such as Redbridge, Guy's, St Thomas's, University College London
Hospital, Plymouth, South Warwickshire and Stoke Mandeville, when
do you hope to be able to produce your report on what has been
happening there and what they are doing to put things right?
(Sir John Bourn) In December.
222. Public in December?
(Sir John Bourn) Yes.
Mr Williams: That is very good, I cannot wait.
223. A very quick question, Mr Crisp, you mentioned
NHS Direct as one of new things you are taking forward which prompted
a thought in my mind, I read a few months ago from memory expenditure
of £87 million from NHS Direct resulted in two per cent of
GP appointments being avoided. I was wondering whether you can
comment on the effect that is having? Secondly, I have been told
that the call centre has people sitting there doing PHDs in NHS
time because of low utilisation levels. I wonder if you can comment
(Mr Crisp) The first one, I cannot remember the figure,
what we are seeing on NHS Direct is, it is increasing demand to
some extent because it was always bound to increase demand, you
are making a service available and it is having some effect. That
effect is both in sending more people to hospital who might not
have gone as well as some reduction, it may be, it is too early
to say, related to the fact that A&E attendance is down. There
is a preliminary evaluation round that. The second point, I am
not aware of these PHD students you are referring to, but I would
happily follow it up if you want to give me the information on
that. But NHS Direct has got further to go. We have got it in
parts of this country linking into GP out of hours services, so
there is one phone call you can make to get to your GP as well
as to get information and advice from a nurse. We are looking
at extending that so it becomes a much more ordinary way for us
as members of the public to go to NHS Direct. We are also linking
it with 999 calls, because you will be aware that a lot of the
ambulance service calls are "inappropriate", in that
we are using big vehicles for a small issue. So perhaps we can
use NHS Direct to screen those out. So if there is spare capacity,
I am delighted to know that because we will be able to do those
extensions more cheaply and more effectively.
224. This Committee is about value for money
and the efficient use of resources, what do you think about the
idea of prioritising working people in the waiting list over non-working
people, the logic being that this would actually generate an enormous
amount of extra tax revenue which in theory at least could be
hypothecated back into the system so everybody would have to wait
(Mr Crisp) I am not sure what I think of it. I am
not sure it is being looked at within the Department or not.
Geraint Davies: Perhaps you could have a think
about it and, who knows?
Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr Crisp. You
have done extremely well. You will remember you promised Mr Williams
a list of part-time and full-time consultants. It has been a very
useful session, it is obviously politically controversial but
we have managed to shed some light on these matters. Thank you
for your patience in being with us so long.