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London Ambulance Service

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of (a) the capacity and (b) the performance of London Ambulance Service answering 999 calls in Barnet at night; and if he will make a statement. [45819]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The borough of Barnet is principally served by three London Ambulance Service (LAS) stations—Friern Barnet, Barnet and Mill Hill. The LAS will always send the nearest available ambulance to every call, so resources based at these stations will sometimes also be supported by vehicles from other areas.

Between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am the LAS always plans to have at least four ambulances covering the area—one each running out of Barnet and Friern Barnet and two from Mill Hill. Three other ambulances are also operated until the early hours, finishing between midnight and 2 am. As well as these and ambulances based in other local boroughs, the service also runs an extra ambulance, deployed by Central Ambulance Control, to provide additional operational cover where it is most needed in any area of the LAS north-west sector.

During the month of February LAS performance in Barnet between 11 pm and 7 am was above the London average for LAS performance.

Efficiency Gains

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what, in equivalent percentage terms, the

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efficiency and other value for money gains in the operation of his Department were in (a) 1999–2000, (b)2000–01 and (c) 2001–02. [45724]

Ms Blears [holding answer 25 March 2002]: Information is not available in the form requested, as direct comparisons in percentage terms would not be meaningful. Since 1999, the Department's work has altered significantly in the light of the changes set out in the NHS Plan and a subsequent review of the Department's operation.

Over the period in question, the Department has made the savings necessary to deliver its business plan within the running costs limits agreed in the comprehensive spending review. The Department's activities have been refocused on delivery of the NHS Plan. In addition, efficiency savings have been achieved through improved purchasing procedures to deliver improvements in value for money, improved project management, and reviewing accommodation use to improve the utilisation of space.

Contractor Fraud

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list over the period 1999–2000 to 2001–02 the savings that were made on action on contractor fraud broken down by (a) cash recoveries and (b) prevention savings. [45722]

Ms Blears [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The answer is set out in the tables:

Pharmaceutical contractor fraud outputs—Prevention(27)

£
December 1998 to March 1999(28)52,882
April 1999 to March 20002,103,119
April 2000 to March 20013,189,111
April 2001 to March 20023,972,342
Total9,317,454

Pharmaceutical contractor fraud outputs—Recoveries

£
December 1998 to March 2000(29)2,251,815
April 2000 to March 20013,097,676
April 2001 to February 2002(30)2,130,260
Total7,479,751

(27) Figures relate to the prevention of continuing fraud.

(28) Progress tracked since December 1998 when PSA targets on pharmaceutical contractor fraud for the period to the end of 2001–02 were published.

(29) Figure relates to all recoveries December 1998 to March 2000.

(30) Recovery figures for March 2002 not yet available.


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NHS Targets

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received from health authorities, PCTs and NHS trusts as to their ability to achieve NHS Plan and NSF targets in 2002–03. [45930]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The annual planning cycle provides opportunity for dialogue between the national health service and the Department in relation to delivery of priorities, financial pressures and the management of risk. The process of agreeing service and financial frameworks involves a round of negotiations through which we aim to agree, in aggregate terms, a plan for the NHS to maximise performance while identifying the contribution of individual health systems.

From April 2002 onwards the responsibility for performance management of the NHS is being devolved to 28 new strategic health authorities (StHAs). Chief executives of the new StHAs will be accountable for delivery of national priorities as part of 3-year franchise agreements. StHAs will hold the ring for NHS organisations in their respective patches and need to ensure that the commitments to which they will be held to account for delivering are achievable.

Invoice Payment

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of undisputed invoices were paid by his Department within 30 days or the agreed contracted terms otherwise specified in (a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000, (d) 2000–01 and (e) 2001–02. [45725]

Ms Blears [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The number and proportion of bills paid within 30 days by the Department were as follows.

On Time Late
NumberPercentageNumberPercentageTotal
2001–02 (to Feb)324,00696.2412,6663.76336,672
2000–01324,56696.0813,2333.92337,799
1999–2000374,41395.8316,2974.17390,710
1998–99374,78794.521,6465.5396,433
1997–98n/a95.3n/a4.7n/a

n/a – not available

NHS Direct

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the annual cost of providing NHS Direct over the last two years for which figures are available. [46719]

Ms Blears [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The table states the costs incurred in 2000–01 on a cash basis, and an estimate for the cash outturn for 2001–02 for comparative ease. The actual outturns have not been finalised yet.

The costs include the full running costs of all NHS Direct activity, all set-up costs for establishing the call centre environment, developing and setting up new

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projects, the development and maintenance of the national clinical decision support system, and costs incurred centrally.

£ million
2000/0190.1
2001–02(31)110.9

(31) Estimate


Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints have been received from callers to NHS Direct about the service they received. [46716]

Ms Blears [holding answer 10 April 2002]: In the Financial Year 2000–01, 148 written complaints were received about NHS Direct in England. This equates to one complaint in over 20,000 calls made to NHS Direct. Details of all written complaints can be found on the Department website: www.doh.gov.uk/nhscomplaints.

National surveys conducted between December 1998 and January 2001 have consistently shown caller satisfaction levels between 90 and 97 per cent. This compares well with performance in private sector call centres and with similar services within the National Health Service despite the particularly demanding nature of NHS Direct's work.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many calls NHS Direct received between 24 December 2001 and 3 January. [46701]

Ms Blears [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Between 24 December 2001 and 3 January 2002, NHS Direct handled 205,000 calls, 20 per cent. more calls than the same period in 2000–01.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many calls NHS Direct received in each of the last two years for which figures are available. [46699]

Ms Blears [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Between 2000–01 and 2001–02, calls handled by NHS Direct increased by over 50 per cent. In the 2000–01 financial year, NHS Direct handled around 3,400,000 calls. In 2001–02, NHS Direct handled around 5,270,000 calls.

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS Direct nurses came from (a) NHS hospitals and (b) accident and emergency departments. [43551]

Mr. Hutton: Specific information, such as the previous employment of NHS Direct nurses, is not collected centrally.


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