Previous Section Index Home Page

Scottish Devolution

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is regarding consultations prior to the publication of proposals involving the transfer of powers to the Scottish Executive by (a) primary legislation and (b) Order in Council. [13827]

Ms Blears: Transfer of powers to the Scottish Executive takes place only after agreement between the Administrations. There are two routes: when power is conferred by primary legislation the Sewell Convention requires the prior approval of the Scottish Parliament through the Scottish Executive. When conferred by secondary legislation, the Order follows procedures set out in the Scotland Act 1998; approval by both Houses of Parliament and the Scottish Parliament is required.


Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals he has to ban smoking in (a) the workplace and (b) all public places. [13605]

Jacqui Smith: We have no plans for legislation in these areas.

Following a consultation process the Health and Safety Commission has recommended the introduction of an Approved Code of Practice on smoking in the workplace. We are giving careful consideration to this proposal.

Control of smoking in public places is the responsibility of the management of such premises. The Public Places Charter, agreed with the hospitality industry, provides customers with clear information on the type of smoking policy operating in a particular establishment, and allows them to make an informed choice.

26 Nov 2001 : Column: 726W

Carers and Disabled Children Act

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to monitor the duties of local authorities in implementing the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000; [14004]

Jacqui Smith: The provisions in the Act relating to assessment, carer services, and direct payments for disabled 16 and 17-year-olds, carers and people with parental responsibility for disabled children came into force in England in April. The provisions relating to vouchers are planned to come into force in April 2002. The social services inspectorate monitors the performance of local authority social services departments. The Department also has regular contact with voluntary organisations who are able to share their local knowledge about the delivery of services to carers. We will be considering the nature of the research which we should commission when the voucher system comes into force. The implementation of the Act in Wales is a matter for the National Assembly of Wales.

Child Psychiatric Posts

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many vacancies there are in consultant child psychiatric posts (a) nationally and (b) in north-west Lancashire. [14537]

26 Nov 2001 : Column: 727W

Jacqui Smith: Information about consultant vacancies is collected through the national health service vacancy survey, which has been conducted in March each year since 1999. Vacancy rates are not, however, collected separately for all disciplines within the mental health sector and information is not held about vacancies in consultant child psychiatric posts. Vacancy rates in consultant child psychiatry posts are included in the total consultant vacancy rate figure.

Beta Interferon

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will complete his discussions with the pharmaceutical industries on the provision of beta interferon for relapsing-remitting MS sufferers. [14799]

Ms Blears: We have no precise timetable, but are aiming to conclude the discussions as soon as possible in the light of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence's final guidance.

Porton Down (NHS Data)

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what dates since 3 August officials in his Department have held meetings with the Medical Research Council regarding the provision and confidentiality of National Health Service data for an epidemiological study into volunteers who took part in experiments at the chemical and biological defence establishment, Porton Down. [14750]

Jacqui Smith: Officials were made aware of this study by the Medical Research Council but there have been no meetings or substantive discussions on the subject.

Blood Donors (South Tyneside)

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people gave blood in South Tyneside in (a) 1999, (b) 2000 and (c) 2001; how many are projected to do so in 2002; and what plans he has to encourage blood-giving. [15025]

Jacqui Smith: Information on blood donation is available only by financial year. In south Tyneside, the number of blood donors were:

April 2001 to end of October 20013,449

(40) Projected figure

This year the National Blood Service (NBS) are working with south Tyneside council's 'Partners for Life' initiative, south Tyneside hospital's 'Saving Lives Together' campaign and south Tyneside college to recruit new blood donors.

The NBS have undertaken national and regional television and radio advertising, as well as direct mailing, to target new and existing donors. They have also run more public blood donor sessions and are reviewing the donation process to find ways of reducing waiting times for donors.

26 Nov 2001 : Column: 728W

Medicines (Safeguards)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the safeguards in place in (a) care homes, (b) NHS hospitals and continuing care, (c) private hospitals and (d) the community in respect of covert administration of medicines by nurses, midwives and health visitors. [14957]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 15 November 2001]: As regulated professionals, registered nurses, midwives and health visitors are expected to work to guidance issued by the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting. Registered nurses, midwives and health visitors may administer medicines in the absence of consent where doing so is in the best interests of the patient, where it has been agreed following discussion within the full care team and with the involvement of the person's family or representative.

The covert administration of medicines should be exceptional, determined on a case-by-case basis, and never a matter of routine practice. Where it is determined to be appropriate, the decision and the medicines administered must be fully documented.

We expect national health service hospital and community organisations to have local policies about the administration of medicines as part of its clinical governance responsibilities for standards of clinical care, for which each chief executive is accountable. For people in care homes, "The National Minimum Standards for Care Homes", produced by the National Care Standards Commission, apply. The Department finished consultation on draft standards for private acute care in October and is currently considering the responses.

For the treatment of mental disorder in situations where patients cannot or do not consent to medication, nurses are required to act in accordance with the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983.

Mental Illness

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he gives to medical practitioners on prescribing medicines for those suffering from mental illness, in relation to obtaining patients' consent to treatment. [17339]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 23 November 2001]: Chapter 16 of the 'Code of Practice on the Mental Health Act 1983' provides guidance on the provisions in Part IV of the Act relating to consent by patients being treated for mental disorder.

Except where provisions of Part IV on the Mental Health Act 1983 apply, consent to treatment is governed by the common law. In March 2001, the Department issued the 'Reference Guide to consent for examination or treatment', which provides guidance to practitioners on law and good practice in this field.


Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many nurses (a) in the mental health field and (b) in total left the NHS in each of the last 10 years; [14143]

26 Nov 2001 : Column: 729W

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 15 November 2001]: Data collected by the Department do not identify the number of nurses who leave the national health service or the total number of nurses working in mental health. The non-medical work force census does identify the number of community psychiatry and other psychiatry nurses. The data are in the table.

NHS hospital and community health services (HCHS) qualified nursing staff in the community psychiatry and other psychiatry areas of work in England as at 30 September each year

Community psychiatryOther psychiatry

(41) Headcount.


1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Figures exclude learners and agency staff.

3. A new classification of the non-medical work force was introduced in 1995.

4. Information based on this classification is not directly comparable with earlier years.


Department of Health non-Medical Workforce Census.

Next Section Index Home Page