§ Rev. Martin Smyth
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what further action he intends to take to reduce hospital waiting lists; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Browne
A wide range of measures is being taken to tackle hospital waiting lists. These include the expansion of existing bed capacity, the development of protected elective facilities, the provision of additional in-patient procedures, the development of community provision as an alternative to hospital treatment, the validation of waiting lists and improved management of waiting lists.
I believe that these measures will have an impact. For example, half of HSS Trusts were able to report a fall in numbers waiting at 30 September 2002. It is also important to note that, despite the large numbers of people waiting for hospital treatment, almost three-quarters of inpatients treated between July and September 2002 waited for less than three months and 95 per cent. waited less than a year for their treatment.357W