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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will require the General Social Care Council to develop an interim register that covers all unqualified social care workers employed by local authorities and in the independent sector. 
Jacqui Smith: The General Social Care Council (GSCC) will register social care workers who hold the appropriate level of qualification for the job that they do, and who satisfy the requirements as to conduct and competence. Registration will begin with social workers, most of whom are qualified. Other early groups for registration will be residential child care workers and managers of care homes. The GSCC will set out the timescales for registering the remainder of the workforce.
The GSCC will publish codes of practice for social care workers and other employers. All social care workers will be expected to abide by these codes, whether or not they are registered with the GSCC.
Jacqui Smith: The General Social Care Council (GSCC) will be responsible for regulating social care workers. There are no plans for it to regulate health support workers. The social care workforce in England comprises over a million workers, and the GSCC will concentrate on introducing regulation in this new area.
Mr. Hutton: The Department collects information about the number of consultants and general practitioners working for the National Health Service as at 30 September each year. Information is not available for July 2000.
Mr. Hutton: National Health Service dietitians, catering managers, nurses and patients, along with Mr. Loyd Grossman and his team of seven leading chefs, all contributed towards the development of the better
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hospital food initiative, including the development of a new NHS recipe book and menu. Launched on 8 May, it includes new dishes which have been specially designed for modern tastes.
Mr. Hutton: Statistics for suspended patients are published by the Department of Health every quarter. At the end of March 2001 (the most recent data available) 76,734 patients have been suspended from the inpatient waiting list during the last quarter of 2000-01.
The National Health Service data manual gives clear guidance that patients should only be suspended from the waiting list if they are medically unfit for the operation, or for other impelling reasons i.e. where a patient is unavailable for admission because of family commitments, holidays or other reasons.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the areas of responsibility that have been transferred (a) from his Department to other Departments and (b) to his Department from other Departments since 8 June. 
Mr. Hutton: This information is not held centrally. Information on applications from nurses outside the United Kingdom for registration to the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC) can be found in the UKCC annual statistical analysis of the UKCC professional register. Information on the number of work permits issued to employers is available from work permits UK.
An Inter-Governmental agreement was achieved with Spain in November 2000 to promote closer working between the two countries. As part of this agreement, the first 63 nurses arrived in the north-west of England from Spain on 19 January 2001 to work in four NHS trusts and have now been joined by another 57. Following this
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successful recruitment, the initiative is being extended to medical staff through a pilot project also being led by north-west region.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) consultant posts and (b) nursing posts are currently vacant; and how many posts in each category have been vacant for more than three months. 
|General medicine group of specialities||90|
|Accident and emergency||30|
|Surgical group of specialities||60|
|Obstetrics and gynaecology||10|
|Radiology group of specialities||70|
|Pathology group of specialities||50|
|Psychiatry group of specialities||190|
|Dental (hospital or public health)||20|
|All qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff||10,110|
|Acute, elderly and general care||6,390|
|Other qualified nurses||490|
(5) Posts that had been vacant for three months or more as at 31 March 2000.
(6) Figures are different from those previously published due to the discovery of figures for four trusts, which had not given detailed breakdown of vacancies within staff groups, being excluded altogether from the results.
1. Figures are whole time equivalents rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Three month vacancies are classified as vacant for three months or more, but have actively been tried to be filled.
3. Totals may not add up due to rounding.
Department of Health Vacancies Survey.
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Mr. Hutton: At present this information is not centrally recorded. We are currently exploring as part of the Concordat with the private sector what additional data collection may be necessary and desirable.
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