Previous Section Index Home Page

National Insurance

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when his Department began the programme to check the veracity of national insurance numbers; when the programme is expected to end; how many numbers (a) have so far been checked and (b) remain to be checked; and how many of the numbers so far checked have been identified as bogus. [113630]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 9 March 2000]: A programme to check the correctness of accounts held on the Departmental Central Index (DCI) was set up on 6 November 1995 and is currently expected to run until March 2001. Since the start of the programme all accounts held on DCI have been continually scanned.

By May 1999 of the 81 million National Insurance accounts currently held on the Departments computer index about 1 million (1.23 per cent.) had certain types of anomalies (e.g. incorrect address format, two accounts showing the same identity details etc). These were further checked and about 750,000 (0.93 per cent.) were found to be inaccurate.

These can be broken down into 645,000 (0.8 per cent.) which were identified as duplicate cases caused by faulty information or inputting error and have since been deleted and approximately 100,000 cases which have been investigated and corrected.

Of the total in only 11 cases has it been established that the account was deliberately created in order to establish a false identity and fraudulently gain access to benefits.

We are currently re-running the initial scans and designing new scans to identify any further "at risk" accounts on the index.

Child Support

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would be the cost in 2002-03 of introducing a £10 child maintenance disregard for

13 Mar 2000 : Column: 54W

(a) parents with care on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and (b) parents with care on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance where maintenance has been assessed under the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill. [114372]

Angela Eagle: The reformed child support scheme, including the introduction of a £10 maintenance premium (or disregard) in Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, will come into effect for new cases by April 2002. Existing cases will be moved across at a later date, once the new arrangements are seen to be working well. On this basis, the net costs of the child maintenance premium, taking account of offsetting savings from the abolition of the Child Maintenance Bonus, will be around £20 million in 2002-03. If all existing cases were to qualify for the premium from April 2002, the additional net first year costs would be around £65 million.

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many non-resident parents will pay more maintenance under the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill for each of the weekly income bands (a) £0 to £99, (b) £100 to £149, (c) £150 to £199, (d) £200 to £249, (e) £250 to £299 and (f) £300 to £400. [114373]

Angela Eagle: The information is in the table. Changes in assessment for existing cases will be phased in.

Non-resident parents in work who would have a higher maintenance assessment under the reformed child support scheme.

Net weekly incomeCaseloads
£0 to £9920,000
£100 to £14950,000
£150 to £19960,000
£200 to £24935,000
£250 to £29915,000
£300 to £40010,000


1. New scheme maintenance modelled on August 1998 5 per cent. scan of Child Support Computer System.

2. Caseloads calibrated to forecast 'A' day levels (April 2002).

3. Figures are rounded to the nearest 5,000.


Breast Implants

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how often and when the Independent Review Group meets to consider published scientific information relating to breast implants and health issues; and if he will list its membership. [110097]

Mr. Denham: The Independent Review Group continues to meet twice a year to review any new evidence on possible health risks associated with silicone gel breast implants or the issues relating to pre-operative patient information.

13 Mar 2000 : Column: 55W

The current members of the Independent Review Group are as follows:

    Professor J. R. Batchelor--Emeritus Professor of Immunology, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine on the Campus of Hammersmith Hospital

    Dr. J. Evans--Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Derriford Hospital

    Mrs. V. Harpwood--Senior Lecturer, Cardiff Law School, University of Cardiff

    Professor D. R. London--Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Birmingham; Registrar of the Royal College of Physicians

    Mr. T. Milward--Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Leicester Royal Infirmary

    Ms C. Rayner--Patients Association

    Professor A. J. Silman--Arthritis Research Campaign Professor of Rheumatic Disease Epidemiology, University of Manchester Medical School

    Professor J. P. Sloane--Professor of Pathology, University of Liverpool

    Dr. J. Evans was suspended from the IRG pending an investigation by Derriford Hospital NHS Trust. She was suspended in order to maintain public confidence in the group and its work pending the results of the investigation.

Otahara Syndrome

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of Otahara Syndrome (Early Infantile Epileptic Encephalopathy) are known in the United Kingdom; whether there is a specialist unit for its treatment; and what (a) support groups and (b) charities have been formed to assist sufferers and their families. [110065]

Mr. Hutton: Epilepsy is the commonest chronic neurological disorder affecting between 400,000 and 420,000 people--one in 200 of the United Kingdom population and including 100,000 children.

There is no epidemiological information available on the number of children with Otahara Syndrome and we are not aware of any specialist units for the treatment of this condition. Treatment is usually via the prescription of anticonvulsants.

It is for health authorities and primary care groups to plan and arrange the services available to people in their care. However, complex epilepsy is included in the comprehensive list of specialised services in the Health Service Commissioning in the New National Health Service. This means that regional offices will need to give special consideration to commissioning services for people with complex epilepsy.

We are not aware of any support groups or charities formed specifically to assist people with Otahara Syndrome and their families. However, support and advice is available from the members of the Joint Epilepsy Council such as the British Epilepsy Association and The National Society for Epilepsy.


Mr. Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the current situation in respect of recruiting and retaining pharmacists in the NHS. [112446]

13 Mar 2000 : Column: 56W

Mr. Denham [holding answer 1 March 2000]: We are taking a number of steps which will help to address the issue of recruitment and retention of pharmacists. The potential impact on the pharmacy work force of the move to a four-year pharmacy degree, against a background of growing demand for pharmacists, was recognised early on. The in-take of pharmacy students has increased each year in the last six years, with 20 per cent. more new students in 1998 as compared with 1993. In addition there was special recognition for hospital pharmacists in the 1999 pay round.

The Government are also modernising services and modernising employment practice in the National Health Service: developing more supportive, flexible and family friendly working practices; extending and improving investment in lifelong learning and professional development; tackling violence and racism in the workplace; involving staff in the way services are delivered and in the changes and developments that affect their working lives.

In addition, we are developing the interactive service "NHS Careers" which will cover pharmacists in due course.

Pay Review Body

Mr. Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what will be the percentage increase in the NHS pay bill as a result of implementing the Pay Review Body report on nursing, midwives and health visitors. [112447]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 1 March 2000]: To implement the recent recommendations on pay made by the Review Body for Nursing Staff, Midwives, Health Visitors and Professions Allied to Medicine will increase the pay bill of the NHS by 1.5 per cent.

Long-term Care

Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in the West Sussex Health Authority area receive long-term round the clock nursing care at home funded by the NHS. [112474]

Mr. Hutton: There are currently two patients in West Sussex receiving 24-hour nursing care at home funded by the health authority. Individual patients are assessed and a decision made by the West Sussex Health Authority's Commissioning for Individual Packages (CIP) Panel. The systems for managing the commission of individual packages of care are open to internal and external audit.

Next Section Index Home Page