This year £145,000 is being provided for research into hospital management. Suggestions for improvements in efficiency are made in a variety of ways, and my right hon. Friend has the advice of an Advisory Committee for Management Efficiency. At the present time 155 work study officers are employed in the hospital service.
Can my hon. Friend say to what extent regional hospital boards and hospital management committees have been advised that they may employ specialist consultancy services externally to their hospitals for payment out of revenue allocation, whether the sum of £145,000 to which he referred is additional to normal revenue allocations, and whether the additional money is being provided for local clinical research?
I can assure my hon. Friend that my right hon. Friend is prepared to consider any such proposals put to him by regional hospital boards. The sum of £145,000 is in addition to the money being provided by hospital authorities from their normal revenue allocations. My right hon. Friend is also providing £445,000 this year for local clinical research.
When the Joint Parliamentary Secretary says that additional money is being provided to give hospitals a chance to use their resources to better advantage, could it be that they will use some of it to deal with the matters outlined in Questions 69 and 70; namely, to see that ambulances are available for patients who really need them?