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Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) training places available for speech and language therapists and (b) applicants for places there were in each of the past 10 years. [130668]

Mr. Denham: These data are not collected centrally.

Data on the number of training places and the total number of applicants for places is a matter for the University and Colleges Admissions Service.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the (a) number of clinical placements available for physiotherapists and (b) recruiting requirements for physiotherapists. [131739]

Mr. Denham: The number of clinical placements available for physiotherapists is not held centrally. It is for education consortiums to assess the availability of sufficient, high quality clinical placements and commission the education and training to meet the needs of local health services.

26 Jul 2000 : Column: 628W

The National Workforce Review document, "A Health Service of all the talents: Developing the NHS Workforce, Consultation Document on the Review of Workforce Planning" outlines wide-ranging and radical proposals and recommendations which look to address issues surrounding the way the National Health Service plans for, educates, trains and deploys its staff, to ensure that the NHS has the workforce required to deliver service priorities.

We are reviewing our assumptions about staff requirements in the light of the autumn 1999 census of NHS staff, the current survey of recruitment, retention and vacancy levels, and any other recent and relevant information.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the ratio is of (a) speech and language therapists and (b) physiotherapists to service users in (i) Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde, (ii) the North West and (iii) nationally. [131741]

Mr. Denham: The data requested are in the table:

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NHS Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS): Therapists working within the speech and language therapy and physiotherapy areas of work, in England, North West Regional Office area and North West Lancashire Health Authority as at 30 September 1999

England North West Region North West Lancashire HA
Whole time equivalentNumbers (headcount)Whole time equivalentNumbers (headcount)Whole time equivalentNumbers (headcount)
Speech and language therapist3,8345,0655406874352
Population ratio per 100,0007.7110.188.1810.409.2211.12
Population ratio per 100,00023.7229.7625.8532.0423.7530.8


Figures are rounded to the nearest whole number


Department of Health Non-Medical Workforce Census

Office for National Statistics (ONS)

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Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the impact on recruiting requirements for speech and language therapists of their increased responsibilities, with particular reference to dysphagic patients and children with special educational needs. [131735]

Mr. Denham: Following the Dearing Review of higher education in 1998, funding for training of speech and language therapists, chiropodists, dietitians, orthotists and prosthetics was transferred from the Department for Education and Employment to the Department of Health. This Department has commissioned consultants to carry out a labour market analysis of speech and language therapists. This will include any recruitment implications resulting from increased workload due to treating dysphagia patients and children with special educational needs.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the retention rate was of speech and language therapists in the NHS in the last 12 months. [131742]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is not held centrally. The number of speech and language therapists (whole time equivalent) employed in the National Health Service increased by 17 per cent. between 1995 and 1999 (from 3,270 to 3,830).

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Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of research by Deborah Rossiter, of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, into the recruitment and retention of speech and language therapists. [131737]

Mr. Denham: The research is being fed into the Department's current labour market analysis of the speech and language therapy profession.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans and targets his Department has for the recruitment of (a) speech and language therapists and (b) physiotherapists. [131743]

Mr. Denham: The national recruitment, retention and vacancy survey published in September 1999 gave us the latest authoritative data on staff vacancies from 98 per cent. of National Health Service trusts. It shows that only 3.3 per cent. of physiotherapist and 1.2 per cent. of speech and language therapist posts have been vacant for 3 months or more (in England). We are ensuring that effective recruitment and retention policies are in place to make the best use of trained staff and that training levels are sufficient to get a better match between supply and demand.

We are taking a number of steps which will help to address the issue of recruitment and retention of physiotherapists and speech and language therapists.

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These include the publication of the framework for the management of human resources for the whole of the NHS, "Working Together: securing a quality workforce for the NHS", which sets targets for local employers to improve recruitment and retention year on year. We have issued guidance to the service on improving working lives and we will shortly be issuing guidance on Lifelong Learning and Continuing Professional Development.

We are also modernising services and modernising employment practice in the NHS: 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.

We have accepted in full the pay increases recommended by the Pay Review Body for Nursing Staff, Midwives, Health Visitors and Professions Allied to Medicine (including physiotherapists) for 2000-01. The Review Body have recommended an across the board increase of 3.4 per cent. for 2000-01 and for the second year running these increases will be paid in full without staging. Taken together with last year's award, this means that physiotherapists will have received real terms increases of over 5 per cent., the best settlement for over 10 years.

Earlier this month, speech and language therapists accepted the pay offer for the years 2000-01 (3.25 per cent. or £300 whichever is the higher) and 2001-02 (a formula on which negotiations will be based) and the agreement will be promulgated to the NHS on 27 July 2000. Manufacturing Science and Finance Union, the main union representing speech and language therapists, balloted their speech and language therapist membership on the offer and the vote in favour of accepting the offer was 98 per cent.

Career prospects for speech and language therapists have been improved with the introduction on 19 May of a revised grading structure for speech and language therapists which extends the existing pay spine to match that of clinical psychologists.

Mechanically Recovered Meat

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what safeguards are in place to ensure that mechanically recovered meat is not contaminated with specified risk material; and if he will make a statement. [131891]

Ms Stuart: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that specified risk material (SRM) controls are designed to ensure that all SRM is completely separated from the parts of the carcases of cattle and sheep which might be used for food before any further processing, such as the production of mechanically recovered meat (MRM), can take place. These controls are rigorously supervised by the Meat Hygiene Service, which inspects each carcase individually to ensure that all traces of SRM have been removed before the health mark is applied. As an additional safeguard, the SRM rules also prohibit the use of vertebral column of cattle or sheep, which will have been in contact with SRM in the form of the spinal cord, in MRM production.

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Air Quality

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance his Department gives on the frequency of air-changes in residential accommodation that is compatible with good health; [132083]

Yvette Cooper: The Health and Safety Executive has commissioned research into the relationship between certain substances and occupational asthma. It has also commissioned research to develop monitoring methods and improve workplace controls.

The Health and Safety Commission sets occupational exposure limits for some 500 substances. Virtually all hazardous substances that can cause ill health in the workplace are subject to control under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.

The Department also provides information for the public on air pollution and health in the form of an information pack. This pack contains a wide range of information, including leaflets and factsheets from organisations such as the National Asthma Campaign and the Lung and Asthma Information Agency that contains specific health advice for people with asthma. The pack also provides information on how to obtain Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions leaflets on such issues as dust mites in the home, carbon monoxide poisoning in the home and damp and mould control for the home.

The Department's Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants has recently published advice on the health effects of air pollutants and this includes advice on precautions to take with pollutants indoors, including maintaining domestic appliances and ventilation. The importance of ventilation to improve air quality in the home is well understood and is enforced through the building regulations.

In 1997, the Department, together with the DETR jointly commissioned a research programme "The Effects On Health Of Exposure To Air Pollutants And Damp In The Home". This £1.3 million programme focused on air pollution in the home and its effects on health. Specific projects concentrated on exposure to indoor air pollutants in children and their mothers with asthma and exposure to particulate air pollution and respiratory illness. The projects are due for completion later this year when the results and conclusions will be assessed.

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