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19 Sept 2002 : Column 375W—continued

Doctors (Suspensions)

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 11 July 2002, Official

19 Sept 2002 : Column 376W

Report, column 846W, on doctors (suspensions), what data is available for the four years preceding 1 January 2000; what conclusions he has drawn as to the reasons for the increase in costs between the first quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2002; and what the total cumulative costs of suspensions lasting over six months was for each quarter of (a) 2000, (b) 2001 and (c) 2002 in (i) England and (ii) each region. [70725]

Mr. Hutton: The data collected prior to January 2000 is not considered comparable or reliable. The way in which information was collected regionally varied and often the data was incomplete or inaccurate. Following the publication of the document Supporting Doctors, Protecting Patients in 1999 we have improved the accuracy and reliability of information on suspensions.

The quarterly figures include the cumulative costs of individual cases that may span a number of quarters. When a doctor is no longer suspended, the next quarterly report will cease to reflect the cost of that case. Where the suspension was prolonged, the reduction from one quarter to the next may be quite substantial.

The reported cumulative costs, per region, of suspensions lasting over six months in England for each quarter of 2000, 2001 and 2002 are as follows:

N WestNorthern and YorksW. MidsEasternTrentS. EastS. WestLondonEngland20
686,811776,274244,092219,608714,200526,240None reported789,0003,956,225Q1
532,015247,243450,63550,000453,500591,240None reported798,0003,122,633Q
742,972255,793432,75350,000486,059586,500None reported718,0003,272,077Q
778,200420,081467,182149,520653,150154,562None reported478,0003,100,695Q

The Department is supporting the managers who are dealing with individual cases. It has seconded a former NHS Trust Human Resources Director to assist employers find ways to ending suspensions as quickly as possible.

Podiatric Surgery

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to reduce the waiting lists for podiatric surgery. [70376]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 17 July 2002]: The number of patients waiting for podiatric surgery are not collected centrally.

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the total cost to the NHS of suspended doctors in the last year for which figures are available. [68658]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 11 July 2002]: The Department routinely collects information on hospital doctors and community dentists who have been suspended for over six months.

The estimated total cost of hospital medical and community dental staff suspended for more than six months for the year 2001 is £5 million. This is based on costs reported as part of the Department's quarterly data collection exercise. The figure includes some legal and locum fees as well as salary costs.

19 Sept 2002 : Column 377W


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many general practitioners were connected to NHSnet as at the end of March. [65057]

Mr. Lammy: At the end of March 2002 there were 8,584, 98 per cent., of general practitioners' practices in England were connected to NHSnet out of a total of 8,725.

Jim Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to encourage recruitment of general practitioners to serve in the London Borough of Lewisham. [73237]

Mr. Hutton: The Government are committed to increasing the National Health Service workforce, getting more doctors and nurses into the areas that need them most. We are providing financial and other incentives to support this. These include Golden Hello payments of up to £10,000 to general practitioners (GPs) new to the NHS in under-doctored areas, more flexible employment arrangements through personal medicial services (PMS) and a £55 million package to improve primary care premises in deprived parts of the country.

In London we have established the pan London action group involving all the key stakeholders with regard to the recruitment and retention of GPs in London. This group is overseeing and monitoring the plans which the workforce development confederations have developed in order to recruit and retain the additional GPs we need.

These plans comprise of a number of actions including;

Increasing the number of GPs through dynamic PMS proposals

Additional GPs as a result of more training places

Additional GPs from an increased conversion rate

GPs returning through the retainers scheme and extending GPs working lives

International recruitment including recruiting from refugee and asylum seekers.

The south east workforce development confederation's plan, which incorporates the London Borough of Lewisham, incorporates all of the above and builds on particular successes in terms of international recruitment and PMS pilots.

Hospital Doctors

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what changes in hospital doctor productivity he anticipates over the next three years. [72902]

Mr. Hutton: We announced the framework for the new consultant contract on 12 June. The new contract will help contribute to increases in National Health Service productivity. It will increase the proportion of time consultants spend on direct clinical care, make job planning an integral part of the relationship between managers and consultants and give greater rewards to those consultants who contribute most to the NHS.

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Health Professionals (Vacancies)

Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many vacancies there are for (a) nurses and (b) doctors ranked according to health authority (i) at the most recent date and (ii) 12 months ago. [72414]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 4 July 2002, Official Report, column 516W, on health professionals, what information is collected on the number of applications to train as (a) GPs, (b) social workers, (c) physiotherapists and (d) special therapists in each of the last five years. [71944]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 22 July 2002]: Information on the number of applicants for general practitioner (GP) register training places has only been collected from 2001. In 2001 the number of applications for GP register training was 2,239.

Information on applications for social worker training is not collected centrally. However, a recent social care recruitment campaign is hoping to raise the number of people applying for social work training by 5,000 by 2004. The courses will start in autumn this year and the social work admissions service will publish figures in December.

The university and colleges admissions service collect data on the number of training applications for the whole of the United Kingdom for physiotherapists.

YearNumber of applicants

NHS Dentists/GPs

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for reform in the NHS regarding (a) dentists and (b) general practitioners. [72391]

Mr. Lammy: We intend to publish the Options for Change report on National Health Service dentistry shortly.

Options for Change will propose that new approaches are tested, assessed and fine tuned at a local level through demonstration sites to provide a better deal for patients, dentists and the NHS before any national decision are made. Demonstration sites will be run through the Modernisation Agency who will be inviting formal expressions of interests following the publication of the Options for Change report.

Plans to reform general practice are set out in the new general medical service contract framework, which has been negotiated by the NHS Confederation and the British Medical Association, and accepted by the profession. The Government are committed to investment in return for reform that delivers higher quality and a wider range of primary care services.

19 Sept 2002 : Column 379W

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of (a) dentists and (b) general practitioners were registered with the NHS in each region in each of the last five years. [72385]

Mr. Hutton: Dentists practising in the United Kingdom must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC).

The total number of registrations on the GDC register is shown in the table together with the number of dentists working in the National Health Service, in the UK for the five years 1997–98 to 2001–02. The table gives NHS dentists as a percentage of GDC registrations.

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The GDC register information is not available by region.

Some of the dentists on the GDC register may not be currently practising in the UK. This includes retired dentists, dentists taking career breaks and dentists currently working overseas.

The total number of dentists working in the NHS includes dentists working in the General Dental Service, Personal Dental Service, Community and Hospital Dental Services and salaried dentists.

Number of dentists on the General Dental Council register and the total number and percentage of dentists working in the NHS
United Kingdom

Total number of dentists registered 1 with the General Dental Council (GDC)Total number of NHS dentists 2 , 3 NHS dentists as percentage of GDC registrations
(thousands)(thousands)(per cent.)


1. Dentists registered at 31 December each year.

2. Number of dentists at 30 September each year.

3. Data includes all dentists in the General Dental Service, Personal Dental Service, Community and Hospital Dental Services and salaried dentists.

Equivalent information about general practitioners is not available. All doctors working in the UK must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). Their names then appear on the GMC's Medical Register. However the Medical Register does not differentiate between NHS general practitioners and any other doctors. The Register may also include retired doctors, doctors taking career breaks and doctors currently working overseas. The GMC Register is not compiled on a regional basis.

The total number of registered general practitioners working for the NHS in England for each of the last five years for which figures are available, by NHS region, is as follows:

Registered GPs in England by Region

YearNorthern and YorkshireTrentEasternLondonSouth EasternSouth WesternWest MidlandsNorth WestEngland Total


1. Registered GPs include General Medical Services unrestricted Principals, GMS restricted Principals.

Personal Medical Services contracted GPs, and PMS salaried GPs

2. Data is as at 1 October for 1997 to 1999, and 30 September for 2000 to 2001

3. Data has been converted to match NHS regional structures for 2001

4. Source: Department of Health General and Personal Medical Services Statistics

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