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Intermediate Care

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library the number of people receiving intermediate care preventing unnecessary hospital admission for (a) Q1 1999–2000, (b) Q2 1999–2000, (c) Q3

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1999–2000, (d) Q4 1999–2000, (e) Q1 2000–01, (f) Q2 2000–01, (g) Q3 2000–01, (h) Q4 2000–01, (i) Q1 2001–02, (j) Q2 2001–02 and (k) Q3 2001–02. [43461]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 15 March 2002]: Figures are collected on:

Data are only available on a quarterly basis for Q1, Q2 & Q3 2001–02, and have been placed in the Library.

Care Worker Training

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 6 March 2002, Official Report, column 432W, on care worker training, what funding he has made available to meet the costs of training care workers to NVQ level II (a) in respect of the draft domiciliary care standards and (b) in respect of the care home standards. [42915]

Jacqui Smith: With regard to domiciliary care workers I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 7 February 2002, Official Report, column 117W. Provision has been made in the personal social services standard spending assessment (PSS SSA) in 2002–03 and 2003–04 for the training of care workers to NVQ level 2 standard as set out in the care standards. The PSS SSA is unhypothecated, and it is for individual councils to consider how much to spend on this training in the light of local circumstances.

In April 2001 we set up a fund to help towards the implementation of the national training strategy for the social care work force. This fund is being disbursed by TOPSS (the national training organisation for social care) through their regional training forums. There was £2 million in this fund for 2001–02 and it has been used to embed induction training and it has been available to train staff working in the voluntary, private and statutory sectors.

The fund has increased to £15 million for 2002–03. This money will be used to support 26,500 staff to undertake training. Some 11,500 of these staff will be undertaking assessor, verifier or mentor training in order to strengthen NVQ frameworks, enabling staff to complete their NVQs in future years.

Care Homes

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to publish for consultation the assessment tool commissioned from the Social Care Association to meet the care home regulations in respect of the staffing mix in care homes. [44771]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 21 March 2002]: We are currently considering the details of the guidance.

Nursing Care

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to publish the protocols that are being developed regarding funding of nursing care. [45661]

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Jacqui Smith: These will be published as soon as they have been agreed. Copies will be placed on the Department's website.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of nursing homes charging extra administration costs for payment of the free nursing care contribution; and if he will make a statement. [47533]

Jacqui Smith: I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave to him today.

Nurses (Overseas Recruitment)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many new NHS nurses since 1999 have been recruited from overseas; and what percentage of the total new recruitment intake they represent. [47525]

Mr. Hutton: The Department's workforce censuses do not record the nationality of the nurses working in the national health service. It is not therefore possible to calculate the number of nurses recruited from overseas or the percentage of the new recruitment intake that they represent.

The new nurses working in the national health service are made up of newly qualified staff, overseas recruits and nurses returning to work in the national health service.

In order to practise as a nurse, overseas applicants must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), formerly the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing Midwifery and Health Visiting. Overseas nurses registered with the NMC do not necessarily work in the national health service The number of entrants to the register in the last three years are shown in the table.

Overseas trained nurses and midwives registering with the UKCC

Overseas nurses registered with the UKCC3,6215,9458,403

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent measures have been taken and what safeguards exist to ensure the competence of locum doctors. [46741]

Mr. Hutton: We introduced a new Code of Practice for the employment of locum doctors in 1997. This remains the current guidance and requires NHS employers who use locums to conduct vigorous checks and to ensure that they are properly supervised. The Code also requires locum agencies to ensure that the doctors they supply are of the appropriate quality and have the necessary credentials and qualifications.

We are determined, however, to improve on these arrangements. We are now developing proposals to extend the existing appraisal arrangements for NHS consultants and principal GPs to locum doctors. This will ensure that these doctors have their professional development needs identified by NHS appraisers and get the same support as substantive doctors to keep their practice up-to-date. We are also working with the General Medical Council on proposals to revalidate doctors regularly. These arrangements will apply to locums who will be required to produce the same standards of evidence about their practice as all other doctors. We will then introduce a

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new Code of Practice through which we see NHS Professionals adopting a central role in supporting and quality assuring locums.

In primary care, non-principal Gps are now required to register on a Primary Care Trust/Health Authority supplementary list before they can work as a deputy or as an assistant in general medical services.

In order to be registered, non-principals need to satisfy certain criteria that include checks on their qualifications and criminal record. The criteria mirror that required for principal GPs applying to join a medical list and will be used by health authorities to determine the suitability of a practitioner applying to work in their area.

Trainee Doctors (Care Standards)

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he plans to introduce to ensure safe standards of care when increasing numbers of trainee doctors move to shifts. [46829]

Mr. Hutton: Shifts are an established mode of working for doctors in training and recommended rest requirements already exceed those of the European Working Time Directive. Weekly hours of work and maximum shift lengths are currently subject to limits agreed with the British Medical Association, and these too will be subject to the further limitations of the Working Time Directive from August 2004.

Recent figures show that trainee doctors working full shifts are more likely to meet the rest requirements than those undertaking other patterns of work.

GP Vacancies

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many GP vacancies there were at the latest available date. [46727]

Mr. Hutton: The 98 (out of 100) health authorities in England and Wales who responded to the Department's 2001 GP vacancy survey reported 2,464 vacancies as current at some time during the 12-month period from 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001. These vacancies will reflect both staff turnover and the creation of new posts.

77 per cent. of the GP vacancies filled between April 2000 and March 2001 were filled in six months or less, and there were an average of 6.9 applications per vacancy.

Further details are available in the Department of Health publication "General Practitioner Recruitment, Retention and Vacancy Survey 2001 England and Wales". It is available as gprrvsurvey2001.htm or in the Library.


Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many full-time equivalent (a) hospital doctors and (b) GPs there were in the NHS in each year since 1979. [44055]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is shown in tables which have been placed in the Library.

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Whole-time equivalent data for general practitioners (GPs) was not available prior to 1990. There was no provision for GPs to work anything less than full-time, therefore whole-time equivalent data was not available.

The headcount number of hospital medical staff increased by 92 per cent. between 1979 and 2001. In the same period, the number of practitioners and unrestricted principals and equivalents increased by 33 per cent. and 31 per cent. respectively.

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