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Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with the Executive of the National Assembly for Wales regarding social worker recruitment and retention; and if he will make a statement on the results of these discussions. 
Jacqui Smith: Officials of the Department have had extensive discussions with officials of the Executive of the National Assembly for Wales about social worker recruitment and retention. Ministers have been kept informed of these discussions. The result is an agreement that any Welsh people who contact the recruitment helpline recently launched in England, or request information via e-mail, will be given the information they require and will be directed to the Care Council for Wales for further information. The Department will continue to
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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 16 October 2001, Official Report, column 1122W, on bed blocking, how many NHS hospital beds were subject to bed blocking by patients of all ages, broken down by each hospital trust in England and Wales, shown in actual terms and as a percentage of beds in use. 
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what powers health authorities have to ensure that payments to nursing home owners in respect of assessed nursing care needs are passed on in full to the relevant clients; and what monitoring of such payments he requires to be carried out. 
Jacqui Smith: Guidance issued to the national health service makes clear that, from 1 October, those funding the full cost of their care in a nursing home from their own resources should not be charged for the cost of their care by a registered nurse as determined by an NHS nurse.
Nursing homes will be receiving payments in respect of their clients' individual nursing needs from that date. This should be passed on to the individual through lower fees. The individual cannot be charged for services that the NHS is paying for and this will be reflected in the contracts between NHS bodies and nursing homes and between individuals and the home. NHS bodies will ensure that the contracts that they have with individual nursing homes are complied with and that any complaints relating to NHS funded nursing care are investigated.
This is an average of the general increases to national pay scales for all of the staff groups in NHS trusts and health authorities, weighted by the total salary bill of each group. It omits the value of increments and other changes in pay
Pay Advance letters, Department of Health's National Health Service August 2000 staff earnings survey
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Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with the Department of Health in Northern Ireland about the initiative to reduce waiting lists through the funding of operations for UK citizens in other European countries. 
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 1 November 2001]: Officials in the Department have had discussions with colleagues in Northern Ireland about the implications of recent European Court of Justice rulings on cross-border health treatment for treating United Kingdom patients abroad. However, the decision to commission treatment for patients from Northern Ireland elsewhere in the European Economic Area is a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 1 November 2001]: The Department is currently reviewing the E112 arrangements to ensure they comply with the judgments of the European Court of Justice in cases C 368/98 and C157/99.
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 1 November 2001]: Monitoring quality of care is primarily a matter for primary care trusts (PCTs), although we recognise that commissioning care overseas raises particular issues. To aid them in this task the Department will publish guidance for PCTs on commissioning treatment for National Health Service patients overseas based on the experience of the three test-bed sites which are currently working up plans to send patients to mainland Europe. The Department will also develop through an open tendering process a list of approved providers/intemediaries whom PCTs may approach when considering sending patients overseas. Finally, officials are considering what role the Commission for Health Improvement might play in monitoring standards of foreign providers.
Primary care trusts will need to satisfy themselves through paper evidence, through clinicians visiting the relevant providers and through the contractual process that their patients will receive good clinical care. Although this process should be rigorous, it need not take many weeks. Our aim is that, if possible, the first patients travel to receive treatment in mainland Europe before the end of the year.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what definition he uses for an unreasonable period of delay for treatment within the NHS, as phrased in the European Court of Justice ruling on treatment of patients abroad. 
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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 1 November 2001]: The European Court of Justice did not define what was meant by "undue delay", by implication leaving that a matter for determination by each member state. In England, if an application for treatment elsewhere in the European Union under the E112 scheme was made on grounds of delay, the Department would take account of the national targets for waiting times as published in the NHS Plan and of the individual patient's clinical need.
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 1 November 2001]: There are no plans to vaccinate the United Kingdom population against smallpox. There is no specific threat to the UK population from this disease, which has been eradicated worldwide.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, pursuant to her answer of 30 October 2001, Official Report, column 619W, on individual learning accounts, when she first ordered (a) an audit and (b) an inspection into a complaint that learning providers were misusing the operation of the individual learning account scheme. 
Mr. Timms: This information is not available for each of the last five years. In 19992000, when 403 specialist schools were operational, about 7 per cent. of the non-selective schools selected some of their pupils on the basis of aptitude in the specialisms. This information will be available annually in future, with information in relation to 200001 available in February 2002.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what further response to the sixth report from the Select Committee on Education and Employment she plans to publish on the Government's commitment to a review of student support arrangements. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 1 November 2001]: The Government have responded to the Education and Employment Select Committee's sixth report on student retention and has since announced a review of student funding. Any reforms emerging for the review will build on the new arrangements for student support introduced by the Government in 1998. It will be conducted in the context of our goal to get 50 per cent. of people under 30
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into Higher Education by 2010, our ambition to expand access to HE from under-represented groups, and our continuing concern to deliver excellence in the HE system. We are, therefore, reviewing the balance between state funding and the contributions made by students and their families. A wide range of options is being considered and no decision is likely to be announced on the proposals until next year.
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will publish the (a) terms of reference, (b) names of participating groups or individuals and (c) the time scale of the proposed review of student support arrangements; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: The Government are reviewing our student funding policy. Any reforms emerging from the review will build on the new arrangements for student support introduced by the Government in 1998. It will be conducted in the context of our goal to get 50 per cent. of people under 30 into Higher Education by 2010, our ambition to expand access to HE from under-represented groups, and our continuing concern to deliver excellence in the HE system. We are, therefore, reviewing the balance between state funding and the contributions made by students and their families. A wide range of options is being considered and no decision is likely to be announced on the proposals until next year. We have said that we plan to consult on any proposals for change that emerge from the review.
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