Published: 14/04/2005, Volume II5, No. 5951 Page 12

Scotland's health minister has refused to rule out introducing a system of fines to crack down on delayed discharge. But unlike England, where only local authorities are penalised, Andy Kerr said he would fine health boards as well.

Speaking at the Scottish NHS Confederation conference in St Andrews last week, Mr Kerr also expressed frustration at slow progress on use of IT to improve healthcare systems.

And he said that good practice in the NHS was not spreading fast enough and called on managers to learn from what others were doing, in Scotland and beyond.

Speaking in response to a question on delayed discharge by GP and former Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson, Mr Kerr said: 'If We are going to fine anyone, we'd fine both health boards and local authorities.

I am still not chuffed that We are moving fast enough in the right direction and want to keep the pressure on.' On e-health, he said: 'I am frustrated at the lack of progress. But even where the technology is there, such as the community health index [individual patient] number, some [doctors] just do not use it.'