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Neurology Treatment

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to recruit more neurologists and neurology specialist nurses; and if he will make a statement. [104580]

Mr. Denham: At local level, it is for National Health Service trusts and health authorities, who are accountable for the quality of the services they provide, to determine how their services are configured and delivered, in the

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light of local circumstances, in order to provide quality services to patients. This includes deciding on the number and grades of posts in neurology in their locality.

Extra money has been made available to enable the NHS to take on up to 7,000 doctors and 15,000 more nurses by March 2002. The precise increases between specialties in the Hospital and Community Health Services and the General Medical Services will depend on the recruitment choices of NHS trusts and health authorities locally.

From the Department of Health Medical and Dental Workforce on 30 September 1998, there were around 300 consultants in neurology. Currently, there are sufficient higher specialist trainees in the speciality for there to be around 100 extra qualifying for consultant posts by 2006.

Health Authority Mergers

Mr. Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals he has for health authority mergers. [105507]

Mr. Denham: There has been only one health authority merger since May 1997 when North West Anglia, East Norfolk and Cambridge and Huntingdon Health Authorities merged to become Norfolk and Cambridge Health Authorities on 1 April 1999.

There are no current plans for further health authority mergers, and any future proposals will be subject to full local consultation and will be based on the needs of the NHS and its patients. We will need to have clear evidence that any plans will deliver real health, service and clinical benefits.


Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to raise awareness amongst health professionals of sickle cell and thalassaemia; and what training health professionals receive on this subject. [106196]

Mr. Denham: The Department is considering a proposal from the Haemoglobinopathy Societies to launch a campaign to raise awareness of sickle cell and thalassaemia, principally among black and minority ethnic groups.

Responsibility for the content and standards of medical education is shared between the regulatory bodies (e.g. The General Medical Council and Specialist Training Authority), professional bodies (notably the medical Royal Colleges) and universities. It is neither practicable nor desirable for the Government to prescribe the exact training that any individual doctor will receive.

All general practitioners currently receive appropriate training to help them meet the needs of their patients. A modernised system will be introduced early next year which will ensure that all new trainee general practitioners receive an educational needs assessment. This will enable a range of appropriate training to be better tailored and targeted.

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The National Boards for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting approve courses enabling registration with the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC). As part of the training programme the UKCC ensures that participants recognise common factors that adversely affect the physical, mental and social well-being of patients and take appropriate action. The English National Board approves a post-registration study programme, "The Care and Management of Adults and Children with Sickle Cell, Thalassaemia and Related Disorders (Haemoglobinopathies)" for nurses.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people were treated in the NHS for sickle cell and thalassaemia in each of the last 10 years. [106199]

Mr. Denham: The table shows the number of finished consultant episodes in National Health Service hospitals in England for the years 1989-90 to 1997-98, where the main diagnosis was Thalassaemia or Sickle Cell Disorders.

Sickle cell disordersThalassaemiaTotal


Hospital Episode Statistics

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These figures are for in-patient activity only. They include the regular transfusion treatment of thalassaemic patients, which takes place on a day case basis. They do not reflect the number of patients receiving treatment from general practitioners or as hospital outpatients as statistics on such activity are not collected.

Information Technology Projects

Dr. Brand: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the information technology projects that are being undertaken by his Department and agencies responsible to his Department, stating in each case (a) the start date, (b) the originally planned completion date, (c) the expected completion date, (d) the originally planned cost and (e) the estimated actual cost; and if he will make a statement. [106746]

Ms Stuart: The information requested is shown in the table.

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Project nameStart datePlanned competition dateExpected completion datePlanned cost (£000)Estimated cost (£000)
Computer Aided Facilities Management SystemMarch 1999October 1999March 200098107
Forms on the Departmental IntranetDecember 1998November 1999August 200098193
General Medical Services 99April 1999March 2000February 2000149128
Management of Electronic Documents Strategy (Basic Module 1)February 1999March 2000March 2000218213
Memphis on the WebNovember 1998July 1999June 20006098
Non-Executive Appointments SystemJuly 1998March 2000April 2000248291
Computerisation of Medical Benefits SystemApril 1998July 1999May 2000344348
Personnel and Related SystemsJuly 1997July 1998January 2000580725
Regional Office Data Sharing ProjectMay 1997April 1999February 2000160183
Regional Office Historic Data ProjectDecember 1998March 2000June 2000235249
Year 2000 Programme including Compliance and Business ContinuityOctober 1996March 2000March 20006,1006,200
Foods Standards Agency (FSA) (IT Infrastructure)May 1998August 2000November 20001,4401,514
FSA (Payroll system set-up)September 1999April 2000April 200010896
FSA (Personnel System)September 1999April 2000April 200010895
FSA (Press Office System)September 1999March 2000March 200010271
FSA Financial and Research Management SystemsNovember 1998April 2000April 20001,1341,134
Commissioning for Health ImprovementOctober 1999April 2001April 20011,4961,496
Medical Devices Agency Integrated System for Information sharingJanuary 1999January 2000March 2000159189
National Health Service Pensions Agency five Yearly Scheme Validation Data ExtractDecember 1998September 2000September 2000650200
Medicines Control Agency (MCA) General Practice Research DatabaseSeptember 1999October 2000October 20002,3532,353
MCA Structured Cabling for IT/TelecomsJanuary 1999December 1999March 2000378378
Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) LabBase 2 ImplementationOctober 1999August 2000August 20001,2001,200
PHLS CoSurv/lab-link deploymentJune 1999March 2000March 2000112112
National Institute of Biological Standards and Control Replacement of Finance SystemJanuary 1999August 1999January 2000116115

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There are many smaller projects where the total project costs are less than £100,000. A full list of these could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

NHS Direct

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on progress in expanding NHS Direct nationwide and its extension to the Wirral. [106809]

Ms Stuart: The White paper "The New NHS; Modern, and Dependable" announced the Government's commitment to NHS Direct. At present, NHS Direct covers 65 per cent. of the population. By the end of October this year, the whole of England, including the Wirral, will be covered.

Wansbeck Hospital

Mr. Ronnie Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the current number of beds in the Wansbeck General Hospital; and what projections he has made of future bed numbers. [107155]

Mr. Denham: The Northumbria Healthcare National Health Service Trust has indicated that there are currently 308 beds at Wansbeck General Hospital. The trust is pursuing a private finance initiative solution to rationalise all beds at the Wansbeck General Hospital and Ashington Hospital on the Wansbeck site.

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