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Teenage Pregnancy

Mr. Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy will publish its first annual report. [19492]

Jacqui Smith: The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy has published its first annual report today.

This is a very comprehensive report and we commend the Advisory Group for the valuable work it has undertaken since it was formed. We welcome the Advisory Group's acknowledgement of the significant progress made to date across Government on implementing our Teenage Pregnancy Strategy. We recognise that, as with all long-term strategies, we must sustain our action and commitment if we are to achieve the strategy's goals. The report contains 49 specific recommendations on potential areas for further action and we will give these our full and careful consideration. We will aim to publish a detailed response to the report by next spring.

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HIV (Health Care Workers)

Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the outcome of the review of policy on patient notification exercises relating to HIV-infected health care workers. [20343]

Jacqui Smith: We have recently accepted advice from the Expert Advisory Group on AIDS (EAGA) and the United Kingdom Advisory Panel for Health Care Workers Infected with Blood-borne Viruses (UKAP). They advise that it is no longer necessary to notify every single patient who has undergone an exposure prone procedure 1 by an HIV infected health care worker because of the low risk of transmission and the anxiety caused to large numbers of patients.

In future, the need for and extent of a patient notification exercise will depend on the level of risk exposure. This may mean that in some instances there is no patient notification exercise, or it is limited in its scope. Until now, all patients who have undergone exposure prone procedures have been notified regardless of their level of risk. EAGA and UKAP are in the process of developing these criteria and we will be issuing operational guidance to the national health service in the new year.

General Medical Council (Disqualifications)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to introduce a ban from registration with the GMC of (a) GPs and (b) consultants who have been banned from practising in (i) EU, (ii) Commonwealth and (iii) other countries. [8979]

Mr. Hutton: We are discussing with the General Medical Council extending the matters that can be considered under its registration and its fitness to practise procedures to include disqualifying decisions by authorities abroad. There is already provision covering doctors from the European Economic Area.

NHS Pension Scheme

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are the approved AVC providers under the NHS pension scheme; how many outstanding AVC contracts there are with these providers; when these AVC providers were first selected and when that selection was reviewed; and what was the source of the professional advice as to that selection and renewal. [10922]

Mr. Hutton: The authorised AVC providers for the national health service pension scheme in England and Wales are Equitable Life Assurance Society, Clerical Medical Investment Group Limited, Standard Life Assurance Society and the Prudential.

Equitable Life was appointed as the first, sole provider from 15 February 1991. The society was reappointed from 6 April 1998 for a further five years. On both occasions, the appointment followed a competitive tender with the Department. National health service employers and staff

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interests were represented on the selection panel. The Government Actuary's Department provided professional actuarial advice.

In March 2001, when Halifax plc purchased Equitable Life's operations, the range of AVC investment funds was extended by agreement to include seven from Clerical Medical, a Halifax Group subsidiary.

I understand that there are about 38,000 national health service contracts with Equitable Life and around 2,000 with Clerical Medical.

From 8 October 2001, following a further tendering exercise managed and endorsed by independent advising actuaries Bacon and Woodrow, Standard Life and the Prudential were added to the list of authorised providers. No contracts are yet operational.

Hospital Performance

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of (a) a Commission for Health Improvement report and (b) the star-ratings as indicators of a hospital's performance. [13545]

Mr. Hutton: The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) is an executive non-departmental public body which, among other things, reviews arrangements by national health service trusts for monitoring and improving the quality of health care for which they have responsibility.

The Department's NHS performance ratings, represent a high level summary of the overall performance of non-specialist acute NHS hospital trusts against a number of key targets and indicators with a particular staff, patient and clinical focus. The performance ratings concentrate primarily on the management of NHS trusts rather than the quality of care.

We are confident that the assessment made in both cases is robust, fair and complementary. The CHI looked at the performance ratings for those organisations it had already reviewed and confirmed that they provide a fair assessment based on the available data.

NHS Trusts

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the total annual (a) surplus and (b) deficit for each NHS trust in England in each year since 1997 for which figures are available. [13622]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he gives to NHS trusts on ordering their priorities between waiting (a) lists and (b) times. [13463]

Mr. Hutton: In meeting both waiting list and times targets, the national health service has been advised that above all patients' clinical need and priority must come first. In July 1997, an executive letter (EL (97) 42) was issued to the NHS about access to secondary care services. It stated that:

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Since then, a significant amount of guidance from the Department has been given to the NHS on managing waiting lists and times targets. "Getting Patients Treated—The Waiting List Action Team Handbook" was issued to all NHS trust chief executives in August 1999 and provides detailed advice on how to monitor inpatient and outpatient waiting lists to ensure patients are treated in the right order.

Two reports specific to managing outpatient waiting lists were published jointly by the Department of Health and the NHS Modernisation Agency in November 1999 and July 2000 entitled "Variations in NHS Outpatient Performance". These reports contain practical actions that hospitals can take to reduce the time patients wait to see a consultant and to modernise outpatient services for the convenience of patients. Every hospital was instructed to take the actions set out in the reports.

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In February 2000, a toolkit for primary care groups was also issued by the NHS executive entitled "Tackling Waiting Lists Together". This guidance was aimed at general practitioner practices and primary care groups to advise them on the causes of waiting list problems and how to address them.

More recently, the NHS was instructed to use guidance drawn up by the NHS Modernisation Agency called the "Primary Targeting Lists Approach" to assist them in treating patients within the shorter maximum waiting times targets for 2001–02. The guidance gives NHS organisations the practical advice to treat patients in the right order within the maximum waiting times targets.

In addition, the chief executive and chief operating officer of the Department have written to chief executives of NHS organisations on a number of occasions re-emphasising the importance of delivery and the actions they should be taking to achieve them.

The guidance can be found at the following websites:

Name of guidance issuedWebsite address
Executive letter 1997—
Getting Patients Treated—The Waiting List Action Team
Variations in NHS Outpatient
Tackling Waiting Lists
Primary Targeting Lists

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the performance of NHS trusts in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02 in meeting their responsibility to absorb the cost of capital at a rate of 6 per cent. of average relevant net assets. [16949]

Mr. Hutton: The provisional annual accounts for national health service trusts in 2000–01 show 247 NHS trusts met the 6 per cent. capital absorption duty. However, exclusion of shortfalls deemed immaterial (that is less than 0.5 per cent.) increases this figure to 339.

Information for 2001–02 will not be available until the NHS trust audited annual accounts are received in autumn of 2002.

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