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Mental Health Services

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what alternatives are being considered to HSG(94)27 for providing auspices for inquiries into deaths in the mental health services; and when they will be introduced; [11912]

Jacqui Smith: Circular health service guidance (94)27 has been an effective mechanism since 1994 for ensuring that thorough investigations are conducted into serious adverse incidents occurring in specialist mental health services. However, in the light of the Chief Medical Officer's report 'An Organisation with a Memory' and the implementation document 'Building a Safer NHS for Patients' published in April 2001, we are establishing a system for reporting, analysing and learning lessons from adverse incidents throughout the national health service. It is important that mental health services should be included in these arrangements.

The new system is currently being piloted and will be rolled out across the NHS from January 2002.

Guidance on the introduction of new arrangements will be issued early next year. In future, all serious service failures or dysfunction will be subject to a full local review to establish what went wrong, to learn lessons and to take appropriate action. In addition, the Department's investigations and inquiries unit will be informed and, in conjunction with the Commission for Health Improvement, will decide whether any further investigation is warranted.

Bed Blocking

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria were used in determining which local authorities would receive additional social services funding to tackle the problem of bed blocking; and how the criteria differ between the councils targeted for extra help and the others. [12230]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 2 November 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cousins) on 30 October 2001, Official Report, columns 654–56W.

Overseas Treatment

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he has put in place to ensure adequate after care for patients treated abroad; and what measures will be taken to ensure that a patient's GP can discuss a patient's case with a foreign hospital team where there is a language barrier. [12773]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 6 November 2001]: Local commissioners will need to ensure that any contracts with foreign providers clearly specify the roles and responsibilities of each party, including pre-operative and post-operative care. It will be essential that there are clear

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and agreed protocols for transferring information between clinicians abroad and the United Kingdom, including general practitioners, and opportunities for UK clinicians to raise any concerns. All relevant medical records will need to be translated into English.

These and other points will be covered in guidance for the national health service on purchasing treatment for NHS patients overseas, which the Department will publish by the end of the year.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what basis were (a) Portsmouth, (b) East Kent and (c) West Kent and East Surrey Health Authorities selected to test the treatment of NHS patients overseas. [12710]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 6 November 2001]: The three test-bed sites were selected on the basis that all three have significant waiting time problems and are also located close to airports, ferry ports and train stations with connections to the continent.


Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost was of creating the new logo for the (a) Social Care Institute for Excellence, (b) General Social Care Council and (c) National Care Standards Commission. [12777]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 6 November 2001]: The cost of creating the logo for the General Social Care Council was £16,000 and for the National Care Standards Commission £12,290. Both bodies followed procurement rules and tendered for the work. The Social Care Institute for Excellence is currently using an interim design produced in-house at a cost of £376.

Overseas Doctors

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what training overseas doctor applicants to the NHS will undergo before working on the wards. [12707]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 6 November 2001]: Overseas doctors will be registered to practise medicine in the United Kingdom only if they have satisfied the General Medical Council that their language and clinical skills are of a sufficiently high standard to deal with patients safely.

All doctors have to compete for national health service posts at a level appropriate to their qualifications. There is an obligation for NHS employers to ensure that each doctor they take on (whether from Europe or from overseas) has the professional and communication skills necessary to carry out the duties of their specific post.

All non-UK doctors newly recruited to the NHS are entitled to attend an overseas doctors' induction course either before or shortly after starting in post. Courses are run by postgraduate deaneries at a variety of locations and are available throughout the year. During the course, doctors are familiarised with UK and NHS cultural and ethical issues, and taken through some of the more common NHS procedures. Individual trusts routinely run local induction courses covering issues specific to their area.

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Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what contact his Department has had with Germedic Gmbh. [12712]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 6 November 2001]: Officials met the chief executive of Germedic on 15 October and have spoken to him several times subsequently by telephone.

Care Homes

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) care homes and (b) care home places have been lost in each health authority in each financial year since 1997. [12730]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 6 November 2001]: The available information is in tables that have been placed in the Library. Table 1 shows year on year changes in the number of residential care homes and places in these homes, by local authority area. Table 2 shows year on year changes in the number of nursing homes and private hospitals and clinics and registered beds in these homes, by health authority area.

Allied Health Professions

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether uni-professionals curriculum development and course approval for regulation purposes for allied health professions will continue to involve the professional and regulatory bodies. [13057]

Mr. Hutton: The Health Professions Council as the regulatory body for allied health professions has responsibility to set standards for education and training and to approve courses in accordance with those standards. In doing so it will be expected to work with professional bodies who provide the registrant members of the council. It will also be expected to safeguard essential uni-professional curriculum requirements but also to enhance professional training by exploiting the benefits of multi professional and shared learning where the subject matter is common across professions.


Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to enable the NHS to utilise the services of non-state registered chiropodists. [12439]

Mr. Hutton: Non-state registered chiropodists, also known as unregulated practitioners, are not allowed to practise in the national health service. However, we recognise that non-state registered chiropodists do have important skills to offer.

This is one of the reasons we are proposing to modernise the regulation of professional healthcare staff. From April 2002 a new Health Professions Council will be established and all those wishing to be able to practise in the NHS will be able to seek registration. The Council

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will require all practitioners to meet accepted standards of safe practice, and apply consistent, fair and appropriate measures to deal with practitioners whose practice falls short of those standards.


House of Lords

Mrs. Lait: To ask the President of the Council what plans he has for MSPs to sit in a reformed House of Lords; and when he expects to announce them. [9461]

Mr. Robin Cook: The Government are today publishing a White Paper expressing their views on the composition of a reformed House of Lords and are seeking comments on these proposals.

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