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25 Feb 2003 : Column 517W—continued

Foundation Hospitals

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures foundation hospitals will be able to use to recruit and retain staff. [97305]

Ms Blears [holding answer 13 February 2003]: As set out in "A Guide to NHS Foundation Trusts", paragraph 6.1, National Health Service foundation trusts will have the freedom to recruit and employ their own staff. In developing recruitment and retention policies that recognise local needs they will have flexibility to adopt measures within the framework set out in licence and forthcoming legislation, including the statutory duty of partnership.

Genito-urinary Medicine

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what (a) monitoring and (b) research has been conducted by or for his Department on long waiting times for genito-urinary medicine services; [97149]

Ms Blears: The average (mean) waiting time for a first out-patient appointment for patients referred to genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics by general practitioners is 2.15 weeks as of September 2002. However GUM services are open-access and the vast majority of patients self-refer, so this figure may not be an accurate reflection of waiting times which vary across the country.

Data from clinicians in the field shows that medium time to first appointment in GUM services has lengthened to 12 days for men and 14 days for women. However there is wide variation in waiting times across the country. It is important that people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are able to access GUM services quickly. Evidence from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (2000) shows that people with an untreated STI typically pass the infection on to a further one to four partners. If there is a wait for several weeks, there is a high risk that the patient will not turn up for the appointment.

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We have invested a total of £5.3 million in GUM services this financial year. This funding was allocated in recognition of the pressure GUM services are facing and in response to concerns from the profession about the possible impact of the new adult sexual health campaign launched in December. We advised this money should be used in line with the priorities highlighted in the sexual health and HIV strategy to increase service capacity and reduce waiting times, develop clinical networks and expand the role of health advisers. The local primary care trust sexual health lead has been asked to monitor that the money has been used effectively.

General Practitioners

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many golden hello payments have been made to general practitioners in (a) London and (b) West Sussex, broken down by primary care trust level. [96081]

Mr. Hutton: Successful applications from general practitioners are forwarded to the Department by primary care trusts for monitoring purposes. Information on the number of applications received by the Department relating to London and West Sussex, broken down by primary care trust level, is shown in the following table.

Strategic Health Authority/Primary Care TrustNumber of applications received
North West London
Hammersmith and Fulham13
Kensington and Chelsea0
North Central London
North East London
Barking and Dagenham1
City and Hackney16
Tower Hamlets0
Chingford, Wanstead and Woodford6
Walthamstowe, Leyton and Leytonstone10
South East London
South West London
Richmond and Twickenham9
Sutton and Merton16
Surrey and Sussex (West Sussex PCTs only)
Adun, Arun and Worthing8
Western Sussex13
Horsham and Chanctonbury5


Due to the reconfiguration of primary care groups and trusts in 2002, the information includes applications received from primary care groups and trusts, which merged to form the primary care trusts shown in the table.

25 Feb 2003 : Column 519W

Miss Anne McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received concerning the level of GP vacancies; and if he will make a statement. [98049]

Mr. Hutton: I have received 29 representations concerning the level of general practitioner vacancies in recent months.

The increase in GP vacancies reflects the intention of primary care trusts to increase numbers throughout the country. The last GP recruitment, retention and vacancy survey, carried out by the Department for the year ending 31 March 2002, reported that 83 per cent., of vacancies filled in the period of the survey took six months or less to fill.

The Government is committed to recruiting and retaining more GPs. That is why we have introduced a range of measures, including extended flexible working and childcare and financial incentives for GPs new and returning to general practice and for those who delay their retirement.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many vacancies there are for general medical practitioners in the London Borough of Wandsworth. [97532]

Mr. Hutton: The Department of Health does not collect the information in the format requested. However information provided from South West London Strategic Health Authority shows is that there are five general practitioner vacancies in Wandsworth.

Health Care (East Riding)

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) residential care and (b) nursing homes have closed in (i) Hull and (ii) the East Riding in each quarter since 1997 for which figures are available. [97731]

Jacqui Smith: Information on the number of residential and nursing care homes that have closed is not centrally available.

Information on the number of residential and nursing care homes in East Riding and Hull is shown in the table at 31 March for the years 1997 to 2001. Data for 2002 are not yet available.

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Number of residential and nursing care homes(51) in East Riding and Hull(52)at 31 March 1997 to 2001

Residential care homes(52)Nursing care homes(52),(53)
As at 31 MarchKingston Upon Hull Unitary Authority East Riding Unitary Authority Total for Kingston Upon Hull Unitary Authority and East Riding Unitary AuthorityEast Riding and Hull Health Authority

(51) Residential data exclude dual registered homes.

(52) Residential data is shown separately for Kingston upon Hull Unitary Authority and East Riding Unitary Authority, and combined for comparative purposes with East Riding and Hull Health Authority. Nursing data refers to East Riding and Hull Health Authority.

(53) Nursing data includes general nursing homes, mental nursing homes, private hospitals and clinics.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients contracted a hospital acquired infection in the Hull and East Riding Hospitals Trust in each quarter since 1997. [97727]

Jacqui Smith: Data on hospital acquired infections are not routinely collected. However, collection of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections data was commenced in April 2001. In the period April 2001 to March 2002 there were 106 cases of MRSA bacteraemias in Hull and East Yorkshire National Health Service Trust.

Health Emergency Planning

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what safeguards he will put in place to maintain existing standards of health emergency planning during the transition of responsibilities from the (a) Public Health Laboratory Service, (b) National Radiological Protection Board and (c) Microbiological Research Authority to the Health Protection Agency. [96590]

Ms Blears: We are working with the Public Health Laboratory Service and the Microbiological Research Authority to provide for a smooth transfer of responsibilities from them to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which we propose to create as a special health authority from 1 April 2003.

We propose that, at a later stage, the HPA should also take responsibility for functions currently discharged by the National Radiological Protection Board and we shall ensure that that transfer is handled smoothly. We shall expect the HPA to maintain and, where possible, improve standards of health emergency planning.

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