Previous Section Index Home Page

1 Dec 2003 : Column 12W—continued

No Secrets Guidance

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to review the implementation of the "No Secrets" guidance. [140639]

Dr. Ladyman: The Department of Health has no immediate plans to further review the implementation of "No Secrets", which provided a framework for local agencies to use when developing their multi-agency codes of practice for preventing and tackling the abuse of vulnerable adults. These codes had to be in place by 31 October 2001.

Last year, the Department of Health commissioned the Centre for Policy on Ageing to analyse these local codes of practice. In January 2003, the Department issued the main messages from the analysis titled, "No Secrets: Findings from the analysis of focal codes of practice". The analysis indicates that by and large local councils have met the requirements required by "No Secrets" and that considerable progress has been made towards improving co-ordination between agencies when dealing with adult abuse cases. The analysis can be accessed on the Department's website.


Benefit Claims (Medical Assessment)

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the (a) quality of medical advice given in the assessment of benefit claims and (b) training of medical staff used to assess claimants. [141062]

Maria Eagle: Medical Services are meeting the medical quality standards specified in the contract.

1 Dec 2003 : Column 13W

The Department receives monthly reports of Medical Services' medical quality audit outcomes, and of the action being taken where a doctor's quality standards have fallen below those expected. The Department's doctors hold regular joint meetings with Medical Services to validate medical quality audit standards.

All doctors working for or on behalf of Medical Services have individual personal training plans, based on training needs analysis. Benefit-specific training and continuing professional education training modules are discussed and agreed with the Department's doctors. Medical Services keep detailed records of training undergone by individual doctors, and report progress against training plans to the Department on a regular basis. The effectiveness of training is evaluated in a number of ways. Refusal by a doctor to undertake prescribed training results in revocation of approval to carry out assessments.

Employers' Liability Insurance

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will set a date for the publication of his Department's follow-up report into employers' liability compulsory insurance. [140530]

Mr. Browne: The Department will publish the second stage report of the review of employers' liability compulsory insurance shortly.

1 Dec 2003 : Column 14W

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress he has made in setting up the incapacity benefit pilot programmes. [140646]

Maria Eagle: The incapacity benefit pilots will give new claimants: early support from skilled personal advisers in a series of monthly work focus interviews; direct access to a 'Choices Package' offering a comprehensive range of existing and new specialist programmes, including joint programmes with the NHS for improving a person's ability to return to work, as well as clear financial incentives to make work pay.

The pilots are currently running in three districts: Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Argyll and Bute; Derbyshire; and Bridgend and Rhonnda Cynon Taff. Early indications from these pilots have been encouraging and the feedback from customers has been very positive.

The new programmes that will be run jointly by the Department and NHS Primary Care trusts (local health boards, in Wales) are on track to start in January 2004.

A further four Districts, East Lanes, Somerset, Essex and Gateshead and South Tyneside are on target to begin pilots on 5 April 2004.