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25 Nov 2002 : Column 142W—continued

Ophthalmology Choice

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding has been allocated to the Ophthalmology Choice scheme as a part of the Patient Choice Project; and for what duration. [83321]

Mr. Hutton: The London Patient choice project has allocated £11 million in 2002–03 towards providing choice for ophthalmology patients in London. Funding for 2003–04 and future years has yet to be confirmed.

Pain Management

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether all NHS hospitals have in place policies for the assessment and management of pain. [80112]

Mr. Lammy: While the Department does not collect information on this issue centrally, we do know from the Clinical Standards Advisory Group report, published in April 2000, that acute pain services were available in 220 out of 250 national health service trusts throughout the United Kingdom, and that in addition, local pain guidelines had been widely developed.

Primary Mental Health Care

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many graduate primary care mental health workers there are, in each NHS region. [83332]

Jacqui Smith: No graduate primary care workers have been employed yet. Funding to employ graduate primary care workers will be allocated to primary care trusts with their general allocation next financial year.


Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are in place to enable those individuals who have a disability affecting their mobility to obtain repeat prescriptions via a general practice surgery or pharmacist (a) by telephone and (b) otherwise remotely. [82280]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 21 November 2002]: We expect general practitioner practices to provide information for patients on how they may obtain repeat prescriptions. Local pharmacies may also decide to offer patients a range of repeat medication, prescription collection or prescription delivery services.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his oral statement of 18 November 2002, Official Report, column 365, on benefit uprating, what will be the entitlement of a single person receiving contributory jobseekers allowance in 2002–03 and 2003–04 to free prescriptions; and what estimate he has made of the number of recipients of contributory jobseekers allowance who receive free prescriptions. [82415]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 21 November 2002]: People receiving contributory jobseekers allowance are not automatically entitled to free prescriptions, but may make a claim for help under the national health service low income scheme. Whether or not they are entitled to free prescriptions will depend on their personal circumstances. Their entitlement will be calculated using the current rate of income support plus allowances and premiums. No help is available if a person has capital of

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more than £8,000 (£12,000 if they or their partner are aged 60 or over). In 2001–02, 29 people receiving contributory jobseekers allowance successfully claimed entitlement to free prescriptions.

Severe Mental Illness

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he plans to give legal status to advance statements for people with severe mental illness. [83305]

Jacqui Smith: Following consultation on the Draft Mental Health Bill we are considering how to ensure that, wherever possible, patient's views are taken into account while they are being treated under compulsory powers, whether expressed in an advance statement or in any other way.

In the policy document 'Making Decisions' the Government said,

This would affect many other patients including those with severe mental illness treated voluntarily, who for whatever reason, lose the ability to make their own decisions. An Incapacity Bill will be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

Social Workers

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what policies he is introducing to make existing social workers realise that their work is valued. [83325]

Jacqui Smith: The Government and the Department of Health are committed to the enhancement of the professional status of those involved in social care work.

The national social care recruitment campaign, launched in October 2001, has just entered its second year. It is aimed at informing the public about social work and social care, as well as encouraging recruitment and retention. The campaign includes both national and local press and radio advertising and particular efforts are being made in some areas such as London and the South East that have more severe problems with recruitment and retention of social workers.

This commitment was further proven by the introduction of the Care Standards Act 2000, this brought into being, among other regulatory bodies, the General Social Care Council (GSCC). The GSCC is responsible for improving standards across the sector and registering qualified and competent social workers and social care staff. As part of this process, the GSCC published codes of practice for social care workers and employers on 23 September 2002.

The training strategy implementation fund— £15 million in the current year—is available to all employers in social care to support 26,500 staff to participate in skill development programmes. The focus of half of this funding will be to strengthen the National Vocational Qualification infrastructure within the workplace. With this investment, employers will be able to further train their staff and managers and establish a culture of lifelong learning and continuous professional development within social care.

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Introduction of the new three year degree and bursaries will be a unique opportunity to transform the status, image and position of social workers—making social work what it should be, a graduate profession in its own right—and build on the best of social work education and training.

Specialised Health Services

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what directions his Department gave to the regional specialist commissioning groups in requiring them to seek the views of their local providers, commissioners and patients' and carers' representatives. [82777]

Mr. Hutton: Regional specialised commissioning groups (RSCGs) were asked to seek views within their RSCG area of their local providers, commissioners and patients'/carers' representatives on commissioning arrangements for specialised services and to submit an overall RSCG response to the Department by 30 September 2002.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the process and timetable is for completion of the review into commissioning specialised services; how the views of patients will be taken into account, and when he will announce the outcome. [82778]

Mr. Hutton: A summary of the responses will be placed in the Library in December and guidance will be issued in the new year.

The responses of patients' organisations to the review will be considered alongside other responses received. Each regional specialised commissioning group (RSCG) sought views of their local commissioners, providers and patients' organisations. London RSCG commissioned the College of Health to consult patient groups and received 31 responses as a result; two national patient organisations were represented on the national review group; and 14 responses from individual patients' associations and voluntary organisations were submitted directly to the Department.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many responses his Department received as part of its review of commissioning arrangements for specialised services from (a) regional specialised commissioning groups, (b) local service providers, (c) commissioners, (d) patients' representatives and (e) carers' representatives; and how many responses were submitted directly. [82782]

Mr. Hutton: A total of 53 responses were directly submitted to the review of commissioning arrangements for specialised services.

Specialist Stroke Services

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department's 2003–04 Priorities and Planning Guidance will require action from hospitals on developing specialist stroke services; and if he will make a statement. [82705]

Jacqui Smith: The Department's 2003–06 priorities and planning framework requires that by April 2004 all general hospitals caring for people with stroke have a specialised stroke service. The national service

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framework for older people established the development of an integrated stroke service and improvements in the delivery of stroke care as a priority.

Trained Nurses

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many trained nurses there were in (a) 2000 and (b) 2001 in England and Wales. [82578]

Mr. Hutton: As at March 2000, there were 634,529 nurses registered with the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (now the Nursing and Midwifery Council). This is the number of nurses registered to practice throughout the United Kingdom. It fell to 632,050 in 2001 and rose to 644,024 in 2002.

Between September 2000 and September 2001, the number of qualified nurses employed in the national health service in England increased by 4 per cent. from 335,950 to 350,380. This marked the early achievement of the NHS Plan target for 20,000 extra nurses by 2004 over a 1999 baseline.

Information on Wales is a matter for the National Assembly for Wales.

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Government spent on fees in respect of training nurses in the last year for which figures are available. [82577]

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Mr. Hutton: Work force development confederations contract directly with local universities for nurse training and spent £342 million on tuition costs in 2001–02, the latest year for which information is available.

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