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20 Nov 2002 : Column 201W—continued

Visceral Leishmaniasis Disease

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance she has

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offered for the treatment of patients suffering from the outbreak of visceral leishmaniasis disease in Southern Sudan. [80940]

Clare Short: So far in 2002 we have provided a total of #743,048 to Medecins sans Frontieres for three urgent health care projects in southern Sudan, which include the treatment of people suffering from the outbreak of visceral leishmaniasis (also known as kala-azar).

CABINET OFFICE

Car and Despatch Agency

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office under what circumstances Ministers are allowed to use official cars provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency when not on official business. [81118]

Mr. Alexander: Guidance to Ministers on the use of official cars is set out in XTravel by Ministers" copies of which can be found in the House Libraries and on the Cabinet Office website.

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) what has been the average cubic capacity of cars within the Government Car and Despatch Agency fleet in each year since 1997; [81140]

Mr. Alexander: The responsibility for the provision of ministerial cars and drivers has been delegated under the terms of the Framework Document to the Government Car Despatch Agency. I have asked its Chief Executive Mr. Nick Matheson to write to the hon. Member. Copies of his letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Civil Defence, Wales

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when he last met a representative of the National Assembly of Wales to discuss civil defence in Wales in cases of emergency. [81554]

Mr. Alexander: It is established practice under Exemption 2 of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information not to disclose information relating to the proceedings of the Cabinet and its committees.

However, Ministers do regularly meet in Cabinet Committees to discuss issues relating to emergency planning, consequence management and resilience in the UK. The National Assembly for Wales is invited to participate in these committees wherever appropriate.

Special Advisers

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many ministerial special advisers have been (a) appointed and (b) dismissed since the introduction of the EU Fixed Term Workers Directive; of those dismissed, how many had been employed as special

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advisers for over four years; and if he will estimate the additional cost if advisers had been employed on a permanent basis. [80899]

Mr. Alexander: Since the introduction of the Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 on 1 October 2002, Ministers have appointed seven special advisers. None have been dismissed. However two special advisers have had their contracts terminated, neither of whom had been in post for over four years. It is the Government's view that special advisers cannot be employed on a permanent basis for the reasons set out in my answer to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) on 15 October 2002, Official Report, column 732W.

NORTHERN IRELAND

11-plus Selection Procedure

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what alternative proposals he intends to put forward to replace the 11-plus selection procedure. [81266]

Jane Kennedy: No decisions have been taken about new transfer arrangements. In the responses to consultation a range of suggestions were made for future post-primary arrangements, including options involving academic selection, and my officials will be discussing these with our education partners and representatives of parents over the coming weeks. My aim is to develop a modern and fair education system which addresses the weaknesses of our current arrangements and enables all children to fulfil their potential.

HEALTH

GPs

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will ensure that relevant NHS staff, with particular reference to general practitioners, are trained in the prescription, administration, review and recording of medicines for older people. [80114]

Mr. Hutton: The Government do not specify the content of the general practice training curriculum. The General Medical Council's education committee has the general function of promoting high standards of medical education and co-ordinating all stages of medical education to ensure that students and newly qualified doctors are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for professional practice. The content and standards of postgraduate medical training in general practice is the responsibility of the joint committee on postgraduate training for general practice. Their role is that of custodians of quality standards in postgraduate medical education and practice. They are independent of the Department. Both these bodies have a clear interest in ensuring that doctors are equipped to deal with the range of circumstances they will encounter in practice.

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Junior Doctors

Mr. Lyons: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many junior doctors have enrolled in the NHS since 1997. [80388]

Mr. Hutton: Pre-registration house officers are doctors who, having graduated from medical school, must successfully complete a year of work in the national health service in order to achieve full registration with the General Medical Council. The table shows the number of pre-registration house officers in England in the hospital sector, including those in both medical and dental specialty areas between 1997 and 2001. We do not collect data on the number of junior doctors enrolling in the NHS each year; the census is a snapshot of data as of 30 September in the appropriate year.

Number of pre-registration house officers in England, 1997 to 2001—DH Medical and Dental Census

YearHeadcount
19973,398
19983,496
19993,606
20003,691
20013,742

Locum Doctors

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many locum doctors from employment agencies have been found while working on temporary contracts in NHS hospitals to have already been removed or suspended from the GMC/GDC register in each of the last five years. [80401]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is not collected centrally.

NHS Contracts

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are the criteria for awarding contracts for the provision of NHS care from companies outwith the UK. [80900]

Mr. Hutton: In the case of overseas clinical teams working in the national health service, contracts are awarded on the basis of a number of criteria. The most important of these are clinical quality and competence, the capacity to deliver without compromising the provision of care in the provider's home nation, logistics and ease of access and value for money.

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many health care companies from outwith the UK have contracts with the UK Government to provide care within the national health service; and if he will list the companies and countries involved. [80902]

Mr. Hutton: No contracts have been signed between the United Kingdom Government and overseas health care providers, as all such contracts are set up between overseas providers and national health service trusts. Three health care companies linked with overseas providers are currently providing acute elective care within the NHS: Netcare UK, Deluca Medical and Hessing Park Clinic. Netcare UK is a subsidiary of a

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South African company. Deluca Medical acts on behalf of a French private hospital group. Hessing Park Clinic is a German hospital group.

Two trusts have signed contracts for service with individual doctors, rather than overseas health care companies. The first is working with doctors from South Africa, and the second is working with doctors from Ireland and Italy.

NHS Treatment

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether it is his policy that patients, by phoning NHS Direct, are given the details of (a) an emergency dental service and (b) an NHS dental practitioner with whom they can register; [81672]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 19 November 2002]: Patients wishing to access national health service dentistry are advised to contact NHS Direct where they will be informed of sources of treatment within locally agreed standards. During 2001 each health authority set its own standards for how far patients should have to travel for treatment depending on whether the requirement was for emergency or urgent treatment or routine access and whether the patient was based in a rural or urban area. These standards took into account local travel patterns. Primary care trusts have now

assumed responsibilities for these standards.

NHS Direct may also be able to inform patients of dental practitioners with whom they can register.

There is no maximum travel time or distance set for registering with a general practitioner, but patients are required to reside within the practice area of the GP with whom they wish to register. Most people prefer to register with a GP near to where they live and travel times and distances are generally short except in some remote or rural areas.

It is for health authorities and primary care trusts to plan the provision of local health services including the provision and location of emergency services. There is no maximum travel time or distance set for access to an accident and emergency unit.


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