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Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to remove charges on those NHS
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(a) treatments, (b) services and (c) prescriptions for which a charge is payable by the patient at the point of use; 
Ms Blears [holding answer 13 December 2001]: A charge is made for dental treatment provided through general or personal dental services, and for some appliances provided to hospital outpatients, to patients who are not exempt from these charges.
A prescription charge is made for most drugs and listed appliances supplied to outpatients, or in the community, to patients who are not exempt from these charges. 85 per cent. of items are dispensed free of charge.
A charge is made for wigs and fabric supports supplied to outpatients who are not exempt from these charges.
Patients who are not residents of the United Kingdom may be asked to pay for some NHS hospital treatment. Full details of the treatments and services subject to such charges are contained in the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, as amended.
We have no plans to change these arrangements.
Items which are considered additional to an individual's necessary care plan may be provided for a fee by a national health service trust using its income generation powers. There is no information held centrally on charges made in these circumstances.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the patient advocacy and liaison services that exist in the Buckingham constituency. 
Ms Blears: There is a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) at the Vale of Aylesbury Primary Care Trust. PALS have also been established at Buckinghamshire Mental Health National Health Service Trust, Milton Keynes General NHS Trust, Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust and South Buckinghamshire NHS Trust.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) targets, (b) guidelines and (c) financial assistance his Department will provide to ensure health authorities under the single assessment process address the risk of homelessness and the health and social care needs of homeless people. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 17 December 2001]: Guidance on the single assessment process sets targets for implementation which will raise the standard of assessment for all older people, wherever they present for treatment or help. There will be no specific targets in the guidance relating to homeless older people, but by providing a more standardised co-ordinated approach it should better address the needs of those who do not have consistent and regular access to health and social care facilities.
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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints have been made by NHS patients in Surrey in each of the past five years. 
Ms Blears: The information requested is contained in "Handling Complaints: Monitoring the NHS Complaints Procedures" statistical report. Copies are available in the Library.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many beds there were in the private care home sector in Surrey in (a) 1997 and (b) 2001. 
Jacqui Smith: The table shows the number of registered beds in voluntary and private sector residential and nursing care homes in Surrey as at 31 March 1997 and 2001.
|Year||Total private sector(18) care beds in the private sector||Private sector(18) residential care beds||Registered nursing care beds(19)|
(18) Residential places in voluntary, private and small homes (with less than four places), including dual registered homes.
(19) All registered nursing beds in nursing homes, private hospitals and clinics are in the private sector. Figures shown are for the health authorities of East Surrey and West Surrey.
(20) Information on nursing beds relates to the period 1 October 1996 to 31 March 1997.
Department of Health annual returns
Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department was informed (a) that the Food Standards Agency planned to make its statement regarding sodium in bread on 29 November and (b) of the contents of the statement ahead of its release. 
Yvette Cooper: The Department was aware that the Food Standards Agency had commissioned the survey on sodium in bread, and received prior notice of the FSA's intention to make a statement and its contents.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of those working in social services hold a listed qualification in (a) the UK and (b) each region. 
Jacqui Smith: In England we have not been collecting data about the qualifications of all social services staff on a regular basis. There is an annual social services work force analysis report which has been considering the work force in local councils only.
The information about staff qualifications in this report has varied from year to year, looking at staff dealing with different client groups each year. The latest published report is for 1999, the report for 2000 will be published in January 2002. A copy of the 1999 report can
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be found on the Employers Organisation website at: http://www.lg-employers.gov.uk/documents/esru/ sswmain99.pdf.
The report contains the following data about qualifications:
|Description of work undertaken||Percentage of staff with a qualification|
|Mainly for Elderly People and Elderly Mentally Infirm People(21)||39|
|Mainly for People under 65 with Physical Disabilities(21)||41|
|Mainly for Adults with Learning Disabilities(21)||35|
|Mixed Client Groups(21)||31|
|Community Homes for Children Looked After(21)||37|
(21) The percentage relates to all care staff that are working in that day centre/home
Data about the social care work force in the independent and voluntary sectors have been obtained through "ad-hoc" surveys which have concentrated on particular client group areas. However, from this year data will be collected from social care employers in the independent sector as part of the annual social services work force analysis report.
Information relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are matters for the devolved Assemblies.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the NHS spent on agency nursing staff in (a) the UK and (b) each component nation in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Hutton: The current provisional figure for expenditure on non-national health service staffing in England in 200001, including the cost of nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff, is £447 million. It is not possible to identify separately, the cost of agency nursing staff with this total.
The figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are matters for the devolved Administrations.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact of the adoption of the proposed Traditional Medicines Directive on the future availability of products currently on sale in the UK. 
Ms Blears: The European Commission has indicated that it plans to bring forward formal legislative proposals shortly. Once we receive these proposals we will need to consider them carefully. However, on the basis of an assessment of early informal drafts of the proposals, our provisional view is that a wide range of herbal remedies of the kind currently sold legally under Section 12(2) of the Medicines Act 1968 would continue to be available.
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Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much it costs to train (a) a nurse and (b) a doctor. 
Mr. Hutton: The latest year for which figures are available show that in 200001 the national average estimated cost of training a nurse was £13,000 per annum. These costs are inclusive of tuition, bursary and salary support costs. Most courses are of three years duration.
In the period between entry to medical school and full registration, it is estimated that training a doctor costs between £200,000 and £250,000. Doctors generally continue training after full registration. As the duration and nature of post-registration training varies greatly and as service and training costs are closely related it is not possible to provide a meaningful estimate of the total cost of training.
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