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13 Mar 2003 : Column 417W—continued


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many neurologists are practising in England; what estimate he has made of the shortfall in neurologists; what action he is taking to encourage more neurologists to practise; what effect the shortfall of neurologists has on the speed of diagnosis for motor neurone disease sufferers; and if he will make a statement. [100107]

Mr. Hutton: We are committed to a significant expansion in the national health service work force. The NHS Plan set a target of 7,500 more consultants and 1,000 more specialist registrars by March 2004, over a 1999 baseline.

Between September 1999 and March 2002, the total number of consultants increased by 13 per cent. During the same time period, the number of consultant neurologists increased by 23 per cent. By 2004, we expect there to be an additional 78 trained specialists available to take up consultant posts in neurology.

We are encouraging more doctors to practice neurology by expanding the number of specialist registrar (SpR) opportunities in neurology. For 2003–04, central funding will be distributed to support the

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implementation of 10 additional SpR posts in neurology. Trusts will also have the opportunity to create up to 20 locally funded SpR training opportunities.

The long-term conditions care group workforce team covers conditions such as neurology, diabetes and renal services. It is developing the workforce strategy to underpin the national service frameworks for these conditions. It covers all aspects of work force planning and development including medical and nursing, allied health professions and social care professions.

Motor neurone disease is often a difficult clinical diagnosis because the pattern of symptoms varies between patients and often mimics other, quite different diseases. The Department has introduced targets to limit the maximum length of time a patient should expect to wait to see a neurologist to 26 weeks.

NHS Consultants

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) NHS consultants and (b) NHS consultant vacancies there are in Greater London; and how many of each there were in May 1997. [101319]

Mr. Hutton: Information on consultant vacancies and consultants in post is shown in the tables. Vacancy figures were only collected from March 1999. The increase in vacancies reflects the action being taken by trusts to expand the consultant workforce.

Hospital, Public Health Medicine and Community Health Services (HCHS): medical and dental consultants

1997(20)1999(20)March 2002(21)
London DHSC area4,2104,6205,330

(20) As at 30 September

(21) As at 31 March

Figures are rounded to the nearest 10

Sources:Department of Health medical and dental workforce census

Department of Health Vacancies Survey All consultant vacancies in NHS Trust in London DHSC areathree month vacancy rates and numbers

March 2002 March 1999
3 month vacancy rate month (percentage)3 month vacancy rate3 month vacancy rate month (percentage)3 month vacancy rate
England (excluding HA staff) of which:3.89462.3469
London DHSC area3.41612.285

Vacancy Notes:

(22) Three month vacancy information is as at 31 March each year

(23) Three month vacancies are vacancies which Trusts are actively trying to fill, which had lasted for three months or more (whole time equivalents)

(24) Three month Vacancy Rates are three month vacancies expressed as a percentage of three month vacancies plus staff in post

(25) For 2002, three month Vacancy Rates are calculated using staff in post from the Consultant Census, March 2002

(26) For 1999, three month Vacancy Rates are calculated using staff in post from the Medical and Dental Census, September 1998

(27) Percentages are rounded to one decimal place

General notes:

1. Vacancy and staff in post numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number

2. Calculating the vacancy rates using the above data may not equal the actual vacancy rates

3. Medical and dental figures exclude staff in training

Sources: Department of Health Vacancies Survey, March 1999 and March 2002

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NHS University

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to apply for the Royal Charter for the NHS University. [100504]

Mr. Hutton: The National Health Service University (NHSU) aims to become an awarding and accrediting institution in its own right, by meeting the standards required to become a university. NHSU will apply to the Privy Council in its own right. The decision to grant university status will be then made by the Privy Council.

NHSU have set up a working group with the Higher Education Funding Council, with members drawn from the Higher Education Funding Council, NHSU, Department for Education and Skills, the Department of Health and the Quality Assurance Agency. This group will look at the appropriate processes and mechanisms for achieving university status, to offer advice and to draw up an action plan setting out the steps to be taken.


Advertising Costs (Scotland)

Pete Wishart: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much the Department spent on advertising in Scotland in each year since 1999 on (a) television, (b) newspapers, (c) radio, (d) magazines, (e) billboards and (f) sporting events. [102331]

Mr. Leslie: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many meetings (a) he and Ministers in his Department, (b) special advisers in his Department and (c) officials have had with Capita employees and members of the Capita board since May 2001; what the purpose was of each meeting; and if he will make a statement. [98578]

Mr. Leslie: As with previous Administrations, and in line with exemption 7 of the "Code of Practice on Access to Government Information", it is not this Government's normal practice to release details of specific meetings or their content, as some of these discussions may have taken place on a confidential basis. All such contacts are conducted in accordance with the rules set out in the "Ministerial Code", the "Civil Service Code", and "Guidance for Civil Servants: Contacts with Lobbyists". Copies of these documents are available in the Libraries of the House.

Children's Services

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 24 February 2003, Official

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Report, column 262W, on looked after children, if he will set out the reasons for the delay in publication of the Social Exclusion Unit report. [102527]

Mrs. Roche: The Social Exclusion Unit report on the education of children in care will need to take account of the proposals in the forthcoming Green Paper on Children at Risk. It will be published shortly after the Green Paper, which is due for publication in the spring of 2003.

Compulsory Purchase

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many properties were compulsorily purchased by the Housing Corporation in (a) 1999, (b) 2000, (c) 2001 and (d) 2002. [102409]

Mr. McNulty: The Housing Corporation purchased no properties during those years.

Departmental Costs

Mr. Laws: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost was of the (a) Social Exclusion Unit and (b) Deputy Prime Minister's Central Policy Group in each year from 1997–98 to 2004–05 (planned). [99885]

Mr. Leslie: The information is as follows:

(a) The following table shows the total administration expenditure profile for the Social Exclusion Unit for each year 1997–98 to 2004–05. The SEU was located within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on its creation on 29 May 2002.




The Social Exclusion Unit does not have any programme or capital costs.

(b) The Deputy Prime Minister's Central Policy Group was in existence from July 2001 to June 2002 in the Cabinet Office. Administration expenditure of the Central Policy Group for 2001–02 was £491,000.

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