§ Mr. Brazier
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many operations have been carried out in France under the NHS overseas treatment scheme; what the medical outcomes were; what proportion of operations resulted in medical complaints; and what the cost was of each category of operation. 
§ Mr. Hutton [holding answer 22 May 2003]
Since the pilot, a total of 245 orthopaedic patients have been treated in France as part of the overseas treatment programme.
The process of post-operative assessment begins with a post-operative clinic held in the United Kingdom by the overseas consultant surgeon. These are usually held four to 12 weeks following surgery. It would not possible, therefore, to provide a complete record of clinical outcomes, as some post-operative clinics have not yet taken place.
The Department of Health does not routinely collect information about the post-operative complication rates arising after surgery for patients treated abroad. In the future, all orthopaedic patients treated overseas will have the required information added to the recently established national joint registry. National Health Service organisations may collect and analyse this kind of information, among other indicators of quality, as part of their local clinical governance arrangements designed to assure and continuously improve the quality of care for all NHS patients. The NHS is responsible for ensuring that NHS patients receive high clinical standards of care wherever they are treated.
A procurement process identifying spare capacity abroad is currently active, so the costs of specific procedures abroad are commercially sensitive. However, prices are comparable to spot purchasing in the UK private sector.