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Overseas Recruitment

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has recently met the Secretary of State for International Development concerning the recruitment of nurses and doctors from developing countries. [71041]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 18 July 2002]: No. Officials from the two Departments are due to meet at the end of July to discuss the recruitment of health care professionals.

23 Jul 2002 : Column 1102W

Junior Doctors

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated cost to the NHS is of compliance with new junior doctors' hours regulations. [71563]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 19 July 2002]: The junior doctors' hours regulations are those incorporated into the new contract for junior doctors which requires Pre- Registration House Officers to be contracted for no more than 56 hours from August 2001, with senior house officers and specialist registrars following suit in August 2003.

The estimated cost of implementing the new contract from January 2001 to December 2003 is in the region of £210 million on a total junior doctors' pay bill of some £1.3 billion per annum. However, detailed information on doctors' pay is not held centrally. The driving principle underlying the new contract was to create financial disincentives through the pay bill if trusts continued to employ doctors in non-compliant posts. The effect of these cost pressures on trusts has been to bring overall non-compliance down from 44 per cent. in March 2001 to 32 per cent. in March 2002, with consequent potential long-term reductions in the junior doctor pay bill.

Acute Services

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to make a decision on the re-organisation of acute services in East Kent. [71189]

Ms Blears [holding answer 19 July 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the information I gave him in my response of 16 July 2002, Official Report, column 219.