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NHS Treatment

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements exist for paying the travel costs of people from outside London who travel to London for specialist NHS treatment not available in their region. [41285]

Ms Blears [holding answer 11 March 2002]: The Hospital Travel Costs Scheme which is part of the NHS Low Income Scheme exists to assist patients with the cost of travel to hospital for NHS treatment under the care of a consultant, irrespective of the distance to be travelled. The scheme is intended to assist patients on low incomes to receive full or partial reimbursement of reasonable expenses for travel to hospital by the cheapest means of travel available to the patient.

Primary Care Workforce Review

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether the contributors to the Primary Care Workforce Review have received copies of the final report; [42587]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 12 March 2002]: The Primary Care Workforce Review was an internal exercise conducted and written by the Department, which engaged with a large group of external stakeholders. This review covered both the numbers and skills of staff needed in primary care and how the workforce should be planned in future years. Ministers received a draft report on these issues last year.

The work underpinning the review will form the basis of guidance on workforce planning in primary care to be issued shortly.

Hearing Aids

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the private care and acute NHS trusts which

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have applied to share in resources for monitoring hearing aid services in 2002–03 and, in respect of each, the sum of money awarded. [45980]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 25 March 2002]: We will announce the national health service trusts that will be taking part in the second wave pilot when a decision has been made. Private hospitals will not be involved in the project. A small pilot project is about to begin to look at the possible role that private sector hearing aid dispensers could have in a modernised NHS hearing aid service.

National Care Standards Commission's

Business Plan

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to publish the National Care Standards Commission's business plan; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [45640]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 26 March 2002]: The National Care Standard Commission is expected to publish its business plan in late April or early May. A copy will be placed in the Library.

Inspection Consistency

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are in place to ensure that there is consistency between Commission for Health Improvement and National Care Standards Commission regulation inspections. [45644]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 26 March 2002]: We will be bringing section 9 of the Care Standards Act 2000 into force shortly and making regulations so that the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) and the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) may arrange for CHI to exercise NCSC's function on its behalf in relation to independent hospitals. We will be preparing these regulations and discussing their implementation with the chief executives of CHI and NCSC to enable appropriate arrangements to be brought into force later this year.

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Care Workers (Training)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will estimate the total number of staff working in the (a) health sector and (b) social care sector with NVQ level II in each of the last five years for which figures are available; [45632]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 26 March 2002]: Although we collect data about the number of staff who work in local council's social services departments every year, information about the number of staff working in social care in the voluntary and private sectors has only been collected through ad-hoc surveys which look at specific service user areas. From this information we estimate that there are over one million people in the social care workforce.

We do not hold data on the "total" numbers of staff in either the health or social care sectors that hold their NVQ Level 2. Some data on the numbers of local council social services staff who have either already achieved their Care Level 2 NVQ, or who are working towards attainment of this qualification has been collected through the Training Support Programme (TSP) Grant since 1999. Other data on the numbers of social care staff who hold qualifications has been obtained though various ad-hoc surveys.

Data about the numbers of social care staff with NVQ Level 2 taken from the training support programme grant forms

Number Holding NVQ Level 2 at the beginning of the year5,35711,62715,480
Number Achieving NVQ Level 2 during the year3,0044,595(32)

(32) Data is not yet available on the numbers of staff who completed their NVQ Level 2 during 2001–02.

The above table shows the data about completion of Care NVQ Level 2 that has been collected through the Training Support Programme grant since April 1999. Although data was collected about the completion of NVQs prior to this date it was not split between the various levels.

The staff that have attained their NVQ Level 2s will be mainly employees of the local council social services department, but some may be working for voluntary or private social care employers who are contracted by the local council to provide statutory services.

In the report "Who Cares? A Profile of the Independent Sector Home Care Workforce" (which was produced in September 2000) it states that there were an estimated 121,500 home care workers and 5,000 home care managers working in the independent home care industry. Of the 1292 home care staff who responded to the survey, 8.2 per cent. held an NVQ Level 2.

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In future, we are anticipating NVQ information to be available centrally on most healthcare staff in the form of the Electronic Staff Record. This system is being developed currently and is intended to be operational for all staff employed by the NHS in hospital and community health services from early 2005.

The National Care Standards Commission will be collecting data about both the number of staff who work in the services that they regulate, and the qualifications that staff and managers hold. We are presently considering what other systems can be implemented in order to collect data for the whole of the social care workforce.

The National Training Strategy "Modernising the Social Care Workforce" considers the cost of improving the qualifications of the social care workforce and in Appendix 5 it provides calculations showing the estimated costs of numbers of staff undertaking qualifications over the five year period 2000–05. However, these calculations do not give a breakdown of the cost per employer or individual. They consider the cost of staff who work in a particular client group area achieving a specific qualification.

Funding has been provided to help implement this Training Strategy with £2 million being disseminated through the National Training Organisation for Social Care (TOPSS) for 2001–02. This amount has been used to promote and embed Induction Training. There will be £15 million in the Training Strategy Implementation Fund for 2002–03 and it is intended to use these funds to enable various staff to undertake Induction Training; to compete the new Registered Managers NVQ Level 4 and to undertake Assessor, Verifier and Mentor training.

Care Home Standards

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps the National Care Standards Commission will take if a care home is failing to comply with National Minimum Standard 18; [45631]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 26 March 2002]: It will be for the National Care Standards Commission to decide in the particular circumstances of each individual home whether the home conforms to the standards necessary to meet the assessed needs of its residents.

Where a care home fails to comply with one or more standards the Commission will have a number of options as to what action to take. The Commission's decision will depend on the degree to which the home fails to meet the standards and the risk to the welfare of the residents. The Commission could impose requirements on the care home to make improvements in a given time scale and monitor the home to ensure that this is done. Standard 18 of the national minimum standards for care homes for older people concerns abuse. In the case of abuse by an individual member of staff the Commission could insist on his or her removal as a person unfit to work with vulnerable adults. As now, if the welfare of the residents was at serious risk, the Commission will have the power to close the care home.

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