: The Health Act 1999 is receiving the Royal Assent today. The provisions relating to Scotland complete the abolition of the NHS internal market and provide for added protection for patients and improved measures to tackle fraud. The main Scottish provisions are:
- Abolition of GP fundholding.
- Changing the main function of NHS Trusts from owning and managing property to providing goods and services.
- Bringing together budgets for hospital services and prescribed drugs to increase flexibility.
- Removing the "interest bearing debt" element of Trusts’ finance.
- Changing the name of Trusts’ non-executive directors to "trustees".
- Introducing a power for Ministers to direct NHS Trusts.
- Protecting staff who transfer between health bodies as a result of organisational change.
- Imposing a duty of quality on the NHS in Scotland.
- Requiring primary care practitioners to hold indemnity cover.
- Tackling NHS fraud.
I shall arrange for a copy of the Explanatory Notes to the Act to be placed in the Document Supply Centre.
I shall bring the Scottish provisions in the Act into force progressively. I intend to commence the provisions relating to the management and organisation of the NHS in Scotland – the first 9 of those listed above – on 1 September, subject to the necessary preparations being made and guidance being in place.
I believe there is advantage in ensuring that the provisions relating to indemnity and fraud are operated consistently in Scotland and England. I therefore intend to commence those provisions once agreement has been reached on the best time and means to implement them. I expect that to be on or before 1 April 2000.
I shall continue to keep members informed of progress with implementation of these provisions.