Charters

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd November 1992.

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Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North 12:00 am, 2nd November 1992

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress is being made under (a) the patients charter and (b) other charters.

Photo of Robert Jackson Robert Jackson , Wantage

We have made considerable progress through legislation and through the publication of 26 follow-up charters. For example, in relation to the patients charter to which my hon. Friend referred, patients now have maximum waiting times for operations and individual out-patient appointments. From April 1993, we will reduce waiting times for hip and knee joint replacements and cataract operations to 18 months; publish reports on individual hospitals and ambulance services, and extend patients charter provisions to primary health care.

Much more is being done. We will shortly be publishing a White Paper describing progress to date and plans for future development.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Does my hon. Friend agree that the fact that 900,000 people have asked for copies of the patients charter shows the great interest in and support for it? Is he aware that my constituents want him to consider powers of redress for them where the patients and other charters are not fulfilled? What additional powers can be given to people to deal strongly with British Rail when trains are late or with the ambulance service when ambulances do not arrive?

Photo of Robert Jackson Robert Jackson , Wantage

One of the consequences of the citizens charter targets is that it is possible to establish more effective means of redress and access to compensation in certain circumstances, especially in the case of British Rail. The most important benefit of the charter approach and the institution of targets and standards of performance indicators is that it enables those concerned with delivering the services to identify more clearly the areas of failure and do something about them.

Photo of Mr Derek Enright Mr Derek Enright , Hemsworth

To date, to what extent has the charter decreased the waiting time for those on disability living allowance?

Photo of Robert Jackson Robert Jackson , Wantage

I sat through the end of questions earlier when the matter was very fully exercised. I was struck by what my right hon. Friend said about the use of targets by the authorities administering that allowance to ensure improvements in the management of the service.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin , Colchester North

On the patients charter and the objectives being set by the "The Health of the Nation" White Paper, is there consultation between my hon. Friend's Department and the Department of Health to ensure that we do not empower patients to rush around the country for unnecessary treatments such as tattoo removals and breast enlargement, to the detriment of those whose rights are being affected by the use of cash for such unnecessary treatments?

Photo of Robert Jackson Robert Jackson , Wantage

The relationship between the citizens charter unit in my Department and the front-line Department responsible for the service is that they are in the lead and we are supporting them, in ensuring consistency of treatment in charter principles across the whole range of public services. I shall certainly draw my right hon. Friend's attention to my hon. Friend's remarks.

Photo of Dr Mo Mowlam Dr Mo Mowlam , Redcar

Does the Minister agreed that an important ingredient for local authorities and health authorities in delivering a quality service is not just charters but, as he implied earlier, the morale of staff? If so, will he tell the House now whether he agrees or disagrees with a freeze on public sector pay?

Photo of Robert Jackson Robert Jackson , Wantage

That matter will be dealt with in the context of the autumn statement. The hon. Lady must wait for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to make his statement.