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Nursing Vacancies

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nursing vacancies there are in (a) England and (b) Cumbria. [5341]

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Mr. Hutton: The listed data show the number of nursing posts which have been vacant for three months or more (and the vacancy rate) in England and in North Cumbria and Morecambe Bay health authorities.

Department of Health vacancies survey, March 2001 Qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff vacancies in England and in the specified health authority areas(34) three month vacancy rates(35),(36) and numbers(37)

VacanciesVacancy rate (percentage(38),(39))
North Cumbria HA201.4
Morecambe Bay HA100.7

(34) HA figures are based on Trusts, and do not necessarily reflect the geographical provision of healthcare.

(35) Three month vacancies are vacancies as at 31 March 2001 which trusts are actively trying to fill, which had lasted for three months or more (whole-time equivalents).

(36) Three month vacancy rates are three month vacancies expressed as a percentage of three month vacancies plus staff in post from September 2000 medical and dental and non-medical workforce censuses (whole-time equivalent).

(37) Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10.

(38) Percentages are calculated on unrounded figures.

(39) Percentages rounded to one decimal.


Department of Health Vacancies Survey 2001.


David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many days on average were lost per employee in his Department because of sickness; and how many officials retired early from his Department in each of the past 10 years. [R] [5055]

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

YearAverage(40) days lost per employee through sicknessEarly retirements

(40) Working days absences exclude weekends and bank holidays for staff working a "Monday to Friday" week

(41) Not available

(42) Not yet published


Combined data for the Departments of Health and Social Security continued to be collected by the then Department of Social Security (DSS) following the break up of the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS). Separate figures are not available for the Department of Health.

Psychiatric Services

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses are

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qualified to work with children and adolescents in Milton Keynes; and how many this represents in relation to the population under 16 years of age. [5315]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not available centrally in the format requested. Information on child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses for Buckinghamshire is as follows:

National health service hospital and community health services: medical and dental and qualified non-medical staff working in the psychiatric areas of work within Buckinghamshire health authority as at 30 September 2000

headcountper 100,000 of under 16 population
Psychiatric nurses440296.3
of which:
Community psychiatry13088.6
Other psychiatry310207.7
Child and adolescent psychiatrists2010.8


1. Figures exclude learners and agency staff

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10

3. Due to rounding totals may not equal the sum of component parts


Department of Health Non-Medical Workforce Census

Department of Health Medical and Dental Workforce Census

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the waiting times are for referrals to child and adolescent psychiatric services in Milton Keynes. [5316]

Jacqui Smith: Information on the waiting times for an appointment for child and adolescent services following referral are collected on a quarterly basis and placed in the Library. The latest figures for quarter 4 (January to March 2001) of the 2000–01 financial year indicate that Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust had no patients waiting over 13 weeks.

Drug Procedures

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what procedures are in place to ensure that injections of drugs that may be life threatening are correctly and safely administered. [4578]

Ms Blears [holding answer 18 July 2001]: The controls assurance framework requires all national health service trusts to identify the risks associated with the safe and secure handling of medicines and develop and implement procedures to ensure the minimisation of risk. These procedures would cover drugs which would be hazardous if given by the wrong route, for example, injected intrathecally rather than intravenously.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has

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received applications for research for the purposes set out in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001. [6035]

Yvette Cooper: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has recently received an application for research from the Centre for Genome Research in Edinburgh. I understand that this centre has an established research team which has already held licences for embryo and stem cell research.

The application proposes to establish stem cell lines from spare embryos, with a view to depositing the resulting cells in the Medical Research Council stem cell bank, to improve understanding of the growth and survival of pre-implantation human embryos, thereby benefiting in-vitro fertilisation treatment programmes. The proposed programme will also examine the potential for cell replacement and tissue repair therapies for a range of serious diseases.

Embryo research in the United Kingdom is subject to the most comprehensive regulation. As with all applications for research involving embryos, this application will be subject to detailed consideration by the HFEA to ensure that it meets the strict requirements of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. Before deciding on the application, the HFEA requires full details of the project and Research Ethics Committee approval. The application must also explain the project's objectives, protocols and why the use of embryos is necessary for the research.

This application will require specific justification for the extraction of stem cells and will be subject to peer review on its merits. It will also require details of patient information and consent forms specifying the purpose of the research and all possible uses of the cells lines derived from it. If approved, the project will be closely monitored by the HFEA to ensure that it continues to meet the conditions laid down by the 1990 Act and any conditions imposed by the authority.


Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the average length of time it took the UK Central Council to register nurses from overseas over the last six months for which figures are available, broken down by country. [4188]

Jacqui Smith: This is a matter for the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC). The UKCC does not collect information on the length of time for specific registrations by country. However, I am informed by the UKCC that the average time for processing non-European Union applications for registration is 85 working days.

Recruitment Agencies

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health by what procedure recruitment agencies achieve recognition by an NHS trust; and what steps he takes to monitor their performance. [4189]

Jacqui Smith: Individual national health service trusts have their own procedures for recruiting staff and may use a variety of ways to select recruitment agencies.

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The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency helps by awarding, where appropriate, national or regional contracts for medical locums or nurses. The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency monitors the performance of the contracts that it awards by holding regular meetings with the NHS trusts and the agencies involved to monitor whether the NHS is receiving value for money. The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency inserts a clause in these contracts that allows it to carry out an audit of the contracted agencies.

The NHS Professionals Agency which will be set up from August 2001 will provide a non-profit making staffing service for the NHS. Initially it will provide nursing staff, but eventually will also cover other medical staff. The NHS Professionals Agency will oversee training and continuing personal development, give temporary staff a better employment package, and will provide a cost-effective staffing solution for the NHS.

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