Published: 15/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5914 Page 10 11

Pearse Butler Chief executive Cumbria and Lancashire SHA

1.What is the biggest challenge to your health economy?

In the longer term the challenge for the healthcare economy is recruitment issues. Because of our geographical situation, medical staffing generally is a problem.

2.What are your vacancy rates for consultants and GPs?

We have increased our consultant numbers by about 6.5 per cent - more than we ever have before - but we are still about 40 short of our target. Although We are increasing numbers, It is still a major challenge.We have also been recruiting GPs (shortage is 58, 7.6 per cent).

3.What is your financial position?

At the year end we had a very slight underspend of£1.5m, which is as close to balance as you can get.

4.What is the biggest challenge you face as an SHA?

The major concern is health inequality issues. People do not realise this because we haven't got big inner-city environments like Manchester and Liverpool. But we have very wide variations in health inequalities, even in some cases within primary care trusts, requiring targeted action.We also have issues of rural and urban deprivation.

5.What are your latest waiting-list figures?

At the end of March our total list was 34,713.We had no ninemonth inpatient waiters, and on our six-month waits there were 3,334 people.We had no 17-week outpatients and we were 34 per cent below our target for 13-week outpatients (at 1,577).