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Doctors (International Recruitment)

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase the international recruitment of doctors to the NHS. [95472]

Mr. Hutton: The international recruitment of doctors continues to make an important contribution to the expansion of the medical workforce. At the end of 2002 further advertisements were placed in European journals to encourage applications.

General Practice

Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the reasons are for the delay in publishing the proposals for the new GP contract; and what steps have been taken to prevent further delay. [91506]

Mr. Hutton: The Government supports the decision of the National Health Service Confederation and the General Practice Council to change the timetable for publication of the new general medical services contract and is committed to doing all it can to support them in reaching a swift conclusion to the negotiations.

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the proportion of patients who have put off visit to a GP in the last 12 months because of inconvenient opening hours (a) for each NHS region and (b) in total for England, in each of the last five years. [89649]

Mr. Hutton: There are no suitable regular data collections to inform such estimates.

Mr. David Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his policy on single hander GP practices. [91148]

Mr. Hutton: Small practices are an important part of primary care, as the new general medical services contract framework makes clear. No one practice model has a monopoly on quality of care and single-handed practices continue to make a major contribution to the provision of excellent patient care.

Health Professions Council

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information the Health Professions Council provided to the Department on its proposed transitional

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arrangements regarding (a) the circumstances in which it intends to test applicants, competence to practise, (b) the likelihood of undertaking such a test and (c) the estimated number of such tests in the two year period allowed; and if he will make a statement. [93913]

Mr. Hutton: As part of the consultation process the Health Professions Council (HPC) undertook between July and September 2002, it provided the Department of Health with three documents:

The documents contained the HPC's proposals for transitional arrangements and set out the circumstances in which the HPC intends to test applicants' competence to practise.

The number of such likely tests is not known, as it depends on the number of currently unregistered practitioners who decide to apply for registration.

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions his Department has had with the Health Professions Council on the training that new entrants to the register will need to ensure that they will be competent to the required minimum standard within the two year period; and if he will make a statement. [94232]

Mr. Hutton : I met the president and chief executive of the Health Professions Council (HPC) on 4 December 2002; at which meeting all aspects of the HPC's proposals were discussed. It is for the HPC to decide on standards for proficiency to be attained by all new entrants to the register. Training requirements may vary for individual applicants depending on their current proficiency.

Health Protection Agency

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to define the individual responsibilities of the various agencies responsible for responding to acts of bioterrorism are clear once the Health Protection Agency is established. [95695]

Mr. Hutton: Our proposals to combine responsibility for functions of various bodies into a unified Health Protection Agency (HPA) offer a coherent, co-ordinated approach to providing specialist support for health protection and health emergency planning. It is intended that the HPA will take responsibility for providing or commissioning the specialist support that the various bodies currently provide. The unified HPA will be equipped to deal with a range of emergencies and to provide a national response. The roles and responsibilities of other national health service organisations have been made available on the Department's emergency planning co-ordination unit's website.

Homeless People

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost of the use of (a) accident and emergency and (b) GP services by homeless people. [87472]

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Ms Blears: The Department does not collect information about the cost of the use of accident and emergency and general practitioner services by homeless people.


Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on health facilities for people living in hostels in Greater London. [94319]

Mr. Hutton: Primary care trusts (PCTs) have a duty to reduce inequalities in their local areas and if there is a significant homeless/hostel population in their area they will be expected to have developed, or be developing plans to provide appropriate and timely access to healthcare for these people.

In addition, the new requirement of local authorities to carry out a review of homelessness in their area and develop a homelessness strategy with local partners such as PCTs will help to identify gaps in services and ensure that there is appropriate mainstream and specialist health care for homeless people.

One way of targeting this group is through personal medical services pilots, where primary care is specifically targeted to meet a particular local need. Many general practitioners and nurses in London also work closely with hostels and day centres to provide health care services to homeless people and often provide health sessions in the hostel or centre.

In addition, we are generally trying to improve access for all through a variety of different access routes, for example, through walk-in-centres, diagnosis treatment centres and one-stop-shop facilities.

Junior Doctors

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the impact of the introduction of the New Deal for junior doctors and the resources made available to support its implementation. [89245]

Mr. Hutton: The New Deal has gradually reduced the hours worked by junior doctors since its inception in 1991. However the New Deal targets have changed and become tougher, making direct comparison across the years misleading.

In 1991, to comply with the New Deal a junior doctor had to work less than 82 hours a week; in 1993, 72 hours a week and in 1995, 56 hours a week. The introduction of stricter rest requirements in 1998 and of the new junior doctors' pay system in December 2000 led to temporary increases in non-compliance. The overall trend, however, has been a substantial reduction in the hours worked by junior doctors from 73 per cent. complying with the 82 hour limit in 1991, to 70.6 per cent. complying with the 56 hour limit in 2002. This has been accompanied by a steady increase in the number of junior doctors working for the national health service: 23,875 in September 1991; 31,777 in September 2002.

Implementation of the New Deal has been supported by New Deal task forces and their successor bodies, the regional action teams, who have worked with trusts to tackle long hours.

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By the summer of 2003 approximately £31 million will have been made available to the NHS over three years, to support initiatives to help reduce junior doctors' hours and improve their living and working conditions. In addition, £150 million was made available over the same three-year period to support the introduction of the new junior doctors' contract, which was designed to incentivise trusts to comply with New Deal hours and rest requirements.

Local Government Grant Formula

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to alter the children's formula used in the local government grant formula. [94634]

Jacqui Smith: We have just completed a review of the formulae that will be used to allocate personal social services resources between local authorities from 2003–04. This resulted in the introduction of a new foster care element of the children's formula. Local government representatives were fully involved in the review and there was a public consultation last summer.

Male Health Workers

Keith Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of (a) nurses and (b) health care assistants employed by the NHS are men. [93950]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is shown in the table.

Health care assistants and other health care support workers work across the range of clinical national health service services. The Department and the NHS have developed titles used to identify them over a period of time. Groups identified in the table comprise the total group of clinical health care support staff working in the NHS.

NHS hospital and community health services (HCHS): qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff, and other specific staff groups by gender in England as at 30 September 2001

Qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staffHealth care assistants(13)
Number of staff (head count)
All staff330,535204,925

(13) Includes health care assistants and support staff in acute, elderly and general, paediatrics, maternity, psychiatry, learning disabilities, community services, chiropody, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, radiography, speech and language therapy, pathology and other STT staff; nursing assistants/auxiliaries and STT helper/assistants.


Figures are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Figures exclude learners and agency staff.

Percentages are based on data which excludes staff for whom gender is unknown.


Department of Health non-medical workforce census.

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