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National Care Homes

Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he proposes to announce his response to the Consultation Document on National Care Homes Standards. [99989]

Mr. Hutton: The consultation document "Fit for the Future?--National Required Standards for Residential and Nursing Homes for Older People" was issued for formal consultation nationally on 8 September. The consultation period ends on 21 January 2000.

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We will carefully consider all the comments we receive before finalising any regulatory standards and the arrangements for implementing them.


Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many physiotherapist posts are unfilled in the NHS at the latest date for which figures are available; and how many physiotherapists (a) left and (b) joined the NHS during the latest full year for which figures are available. [99995]

Mr. Denham: The available information is given in the tables. The Department's Recruitment, Retention and Vacancies survey collected data on the numbers of unfilled posts in NHS trusts in England as a 31 March 1999. Information is not collected centrally on the numbers of physiotherapists joining and leaving the NHS, but the annual non-medical workforce census gives total numbers of physiotherapists at 30 September each year.

Physiotherapist vacancies in NHS trusts in England at 31 March 1999

Total vacancies (whole time equivalents)


Department of Health Recruitment, Retention and Vacancies Survey March 1999

NHS hospital and community health services physiotherapists in England at 30 September each year



Figures are rounded to the nearest ten


Department of Health non-medical workforce census

Pharmaceutical Packaging

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what impact the EU directive on pharmaceutical packaging, which came into force on 1 January, has had on the availability and cost of generic drugs to the NHS. [99994]

Ms Stuart: Although it does not require them to do so, many manufacturers of generic medicines have decided in the light of European Community Directive 92/27, and other considerations, to change their production from bulk supplies to patient packs. It is likely that this change has contributed to recent problems in the availability of generic medicines and their increasing cost to the NHS. It is, however, only one factor and not, in our view, the most significant.

NHS Magazine

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the cost to public funds in the last year for which information is available of publishing NHS Magazine. [99894]

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Mr. Denham: NHS Magazine was first published in June 1995. The net cost of publishing four issues of NHS Magazine in 1998 was £161,311.48. This averages a cost of £1.04 per copy.

Health Care Spending

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Government have a long-term target figure for the percentage of gross domestic product that it wishes to see devoted to health care spending. [100006]

Mr. Denham: No.

Patients Association

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding his Department has provided to the Patients Association in each of the last five years. [99990]

Ms Stuart: The main source of Departmental funding for voluntary organisations is the Section 64 General Scheme of Grants. Over the last five years the Patients Association has received the following Section 64 funding:


NHS Consultants

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of serving NHS consultants intending to retire (a) before the age of 65 years and (b) before reaching the age of 60 years. [99888]

Mr. Denham: Information about the number of consultants in the National Health Service intending to retire is not collected centrally. For workforce planning purposes, we use data provided by the Medical Royal Colleges, where available.

A and E Waiting Times

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to establish a task force to monitor the number of patients who wait on trolleys for treatment in A and E departments. [99998]

Ms Stuart: Earlier this year we announced a £115 million programme to modernise, expand and update accident and emergency departments. At the same time we announced that we were setting up a team to spearhead improvements in services and to set standards of care in accident and emergency departments, including the care provided for people awaiting admission to hospital. The team is led by Mr. Mike Lambert, an experienced accident and emergency consultant, and draws upon the expertise of professionals in all relevant fields. Their report will be presented to Ministers next spring.

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Primary Care Groups

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the (a) effect to date and (b) likely effect during the remainder of the current financial year of primary care group budget overspends on the prescribing patterns of those primary care groups. [99991]

Mr. Denham: Current pressures do not justify a reduction or withdrawal of services to patients. Primary Care Groups should monitor all aspects of their prescribing and continue their efforts to reduce wasteful and inappropriate prescribing.

Hospital Waiting Times

Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people are waiting for (a) 12, (b) 18 and (c) 24 months for hospital treatment; and how many people were waiting for hospital treatment on 1 March in each year from 1990 to 1999 in the North Staffordshire Hospital Trust area. [99881]

Mr. Denham: The following table contains data for 31 March figures each year. Data are only available from March 1994 for North Staffordshire Hospital Trust as it exists today. However, the table supplies data for North Staffordshire District Health Authority before this time. Please note that this information will not be directly comparable with later years as it may not cover exactly the same area as the current trust.

Total12 months plus18 months plus24 months plus
31 March 19997,05151900
31 March 19989,87739200
31 March 19976,9889300
31 March 19967,307000
31 March 19958,486800
31 March 19949,170000
31 March 19938,206300
31 March 19927,254 251 5
31 March 19918,026 952 565
31 March 199010,019 1,170 1,282

Voluntary Organisations

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the voluntary organisations which received section 64 financial support in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, indicating the amount of each award and the number of years each organisation has been funded through section 64. [100495]

Mr. Hutton: The available information has been placed in the Library.

Dental Services

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many vacant posts there are for Community Dental Service dentists; [100501]

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Mr. Hutton: There is no overall community dental service (CDS) budget. The level of investment in the CDS is a matter for individual health authorities to decide in the light of local need and priorities. Funding comes from health authority baseline allocations. Information about spending on CDS, recruitment and vacancies are matters for health authorities and data are not collected centrally. Overall CDS workforce statistics are given in the table.

Staff in the community dental service (England): all figures as at
30 September

Head count Whole time equiv.
YearFull-timePart-timeHonoraryTotal (wte)


All figures are rounded to nearest 10

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health where the new dental phone-and-go schemes will be based. [100503]

Mr. Hutton: Two phone-and-go dental access centres have already opened in Cornwall and Shropshire. A further six will begin to open from the autumn in Wolverhampton, Bromley, Gloucester, Swindon, Worcester, and Manchester. Expressions of interest for further dental access centres are currently being considered and an announcement will be made shortly. Those that are successful will be given financial support to help them work up a full business case.

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