Published: 15/08/2002, Volume III, No. 5818 Page 5

A£68m package to expand day case surgery by 70,000 operations per year, to include six new diagnostic and treatment centres, is due to be announced by health minister John Hutton tomorrow.

At least three of the centres will be in London, with Epsom and St Helier trust due to have a new elective orthopaedic centre at Epsom General Hospital, and Newham primary care trust opening a centre specialising in dermatology.

As well as new buildings and equipment, new NHS LIFT (local improvement and finance trust) schemes to invest in primary care facilities will also be announced.

Newham will be the first part of London, and the second in the country, to have a primary careled centre specialising in dermatology. It will be based in Canning Town and will be led by a local GP working with a specialist nurse consultant. PCT director of commissioning and service improvement Paul Jenkins said: 'This new service will mean that Newham patients with a range of skin conditions will be able to be seen by a specially trained GP quickly, without necessarily having to wait for a referral to the hospital.'

It is anticipated that waiting times for such skin treatment should be reduced below the national target of 21 weeks.

The Department of Health is also publishing a new guide to help trusts reduce waiting times, implement booking systems and introduce more choice, which will add 17 new procedures to those recommended for day surgery.

At present there are 25 procedures, including tonsillectomy and varicose vein removal, recommended for day surgery.

The extra procedures, proposed by the British Association of Day Surgery, will include breast cancer operations, keyhole surgery on knee cartilage or shoulder joints, and keyhole repair of abdominal hernias.

Mr Hutton is expected to tell the service: 'Instead of saying, 'Is this patient suitable for day surgery?', they need to be asking as a matter of course, 'Do we have to admit this case as an inpatient?'.'

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