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18 Dec 2003 : Column 1118W—continued

Community Paediatric Service

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many referrals of children up to the age of five years there were to the Community Paediatric Service in England and Wales in each year since 1997; and who initiated the referrals. [144137]

Dr. Ladyman: Information is not available in the form requested.

Data about new episodes of care with the community paediatric nursing services in England are published in "Patient Care in the Community, NHS Specialist Care Nursing, Summary information for 2002–03, England"—available at

The data collected do not include the age of the children involved or source of referral. The table shows numbers of new episodes in the financial years 1997–98 to 2002–03.

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Initial contacts with community paediatric nurses, England, 1997–98 to 2002–03

Number of initial contacts


Referrals to community paediatric nurses are not necessarily the same as referrals to community paediatric services—which usually relate to medical services and a different client mix.


David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letter of 10 November 2003 from the hon. Member for Walsall, North, on the Royal Commission on Long Term Care, transferred to his Department from the Department for Work and Pensions. [144855]

Dr. Ladyman: A reply was sent to the hon. Member on 15 December 2003.

Delayed Discharges (Suffolk)

Mr. David Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the number of delayed discharge patients awaiting a domiciliary care package in Suffolk on the latest date for which figures are available; [143526]

Dr. Ladyman: There were nine patients in Suffolk who were delayed in hospital awaiting a domiciliary care package in their own homes at the beginning of December 2003.

In September 2003 in England, 26.3 per cent. of patients who experienced a delayed transfer of care from hospital for a period of 28 days or over, and in Suffolk West Primary Care Trust the figure was 38.89 per cent. This compares to 34.2 per cent. in England and 46.4 per cent. in Suffolk West PCT in September 2002.

Departmental Job Losses

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the results were of the Executive Agency review of job losses in his Department; and what the cost of the review was. [143054]

Ms Rosie Winterton: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, announced at the Health Select Committee on 30 October that he intends to undertake a review in 2004 of the Department's arm's length bodies. This review will embrace executive non-departmental public bodies and special health authorities as well as executive agencies.

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Electronic Care Record System

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will increase the number of doctors in practice to make up any shortfall in the NHS as the integrated care record system is introduced. [142705]

Mr. Hutton: There will not be a need to increase the number of doctors in practice in the National Health Service as a consequence of the introduction of the integrated care record system. The system will in fact produce efficiency savings for clinicians across the NHS. For example, summaries of records will be available across the whole of the NHS along with the necessary information to support clinical decisions.

Some of the areas where doctors will save time include:

Five-a-Day Programme

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the participants are being selected for the FACET; and what its projected total cost is. [144561]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The impact of fruit and vegetable consumption in the 66 primary care trusts (PCTs) running Five-a-Day community initiatives is being evaluated using the Five-a-Day Consumption Evaluation Tool (FACET). The participants are being selected randomly from the electoral register for the 66 PCTS and control areas matched for multiple deprivation index. The total cost of the evaluation is estimated to be £330,000.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department has spent on the (a) logo development and (b) communications programme for the National Five-a-Day Programme. [144572]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Five-a-Day logo is part of a wider educational programme to provide clear and consistent information on the benefits of eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. The cost to date of developing the Five-a-Day logo and related communications, including materials for use in primary care settings throughout the national health service, has been £549,000.

Food Standards Agency

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many times in each of the last five years representatives of (a) the farming sector, (b) the food manufacturing sector, (c) the food retail sector, (d) consumer organisations, (e) academia and (f) other sectors have made presentations to the Food Standards Agency Board that are not recorded in the agency's board papers; [144025]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: A total of 42 informal briefing sessions have been arranged for the board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) since it established on 1 April 2000, as shown in the table.

Total number of informal briefing sessions


It is normal practice for informal briefing sessions to include a range of stakeholders or individuals with different views or perspectives on an issue. Details of the total number of informal briefing sessions organised for the board of the FSA since it was established on 1 April 2000 are shown in the table. Also indicated is the number of times specific sectors have participated in these informal briefing sessions. The figures for other sectors include participation by Government Departments, chairs or members of expert/advisory committees, enforcement organisations, professional associations and individuals.

Total number of informal briefing sessions 910815
Including participation by the following groups:
Farming sector1
Food manufacturing sector1
Food retail sector21
Consumer organisations2314
Other sectors15181220

The board of the FSA has recently agreed to publish the topics of, and (subject to their agreement) the groups invited to participate in, future informal board briefing sessions. This information will be published with papers put to open board meetings, beginning with the board's next open meeting on 12 February 2004.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the amount of fraud in the NHS; and what research his Department has commissioned to estimate the level of unidentified fraud in the NHS. [144591]

Mr. Hutton: The National Health Service Counter Fraud and Security Management Service (NHS CFSMS) has an on-going programme of highly accurate risk measurement exercises—accurate to plus or minus 1 per cent.—designed to reveal levels of losses and, through repeated exercises, reductions in such losses, where they take place.

Phase one of these exercises concentrated on patient fraud. The tables show the results.

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£ million

Year data selectedFraud losses
Pharmaceutical patient fraud
Dental patient fraud
Optical patient fraud

A statistically valid sample of those prescriptions prescribed during March 2003 has been taken and a further measurement exercise has been completed. Further reductions in pharmaceutical patient fraud are anticipated and figures will be produced later this month.

Phase two of the programme is now focussing on contractor fraud within the NHS. As the measurement programme extends, it will enable NHS CFSMS to accurately assess the totality of NHS fraud.

Total patient fraud losses have reduced from approximately £170 million to £109.17 million per year, a reduction of 36 per cent. since the creation of NHS CFSin 1998.

Fraud in the NHS is not acceptable. It deprives the NHS of the resources needed for the delivery of patient care and the continuing improvement of frontline services.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what work the NHS counter-fraud unit is undertaking on the use of agency staff in the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [144595]

Mr. Hutton: The National Health Service Counter Fraud Service, now Counter Fraud and Security Management Service (CFSMS), was created in 1998 with a remit to tackle fraud and corruption within the NHS. So far, it has produced a financial benefit to the NHS of more than £295 million. It works with more than 400 professionally trained and accredited local counter fraud specialists covering every health body in England and Wales.

NHS bank and agency staff are an integral part of the NHS work force, but there is, unfortunately, a small minority of these staff who take advantage of the NHS and its resources. CFSMS have identified bank and agency timesheet fraud as a significant area of fraud and investigations, to date, have resulted in 33 criminal prosecutions. Some of the individuals involved have received terms of imprisonment ranging from nine to 21 months. Criminal prosecution is not the only action taken and CFSMS pursues a parallel sanctions policy, seeking to combine appropriate disciplinary procedures with civil action to freeze and recover assets.

The CFMS is engaged in a national proactive exercise aimed at highlighting system and policy weaknesses in the NHS. As a result, information will be sent to the whole of the NHS in England and Wales on how to improve systems, stop the fraudulent practices that put resources at risk and prevent bank and agency staff fraud in the future. Local counter fraud specialists in NHS organisations that use bank and agency staff have

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been required to check agency staff records, including timesheets, uncover incidents of fraud, assess systems used to monitor agency staff and deliver fraud awareness presentations to agency staff.

This is the first of several exercises to be developed by CFSMS that will see NHS counter fraud specialists proactively detect and investigate fraud and where necessary apply tough sanctions.

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