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5 Jan 2004 : Column 188W—continued

Electronic Care Record System

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health by what mechanism he proposes to fund the estimated cost of the planned NHS electronic care record system; and where the money for the upkeep of the system will come from. [142704]

Mr. Hutton: The national health service electronic care record is one element of the national programme for information technology (NPfIT) in the national health service. Central funding for the NPfIT in the NHS is to be made available from the Spending Review 2002 as follows: £370 million in 2003–04: £730 million in 2004–05 and £1.2 billion in 2005–06.

Future maintenance costs will form part of the ongoing financial management processes within future Spending Review envelopes. By 2008, IT funding will be in line with the levels proposed within the Wanless Review; that is, to four per cent. of total NHS expenditure.

Electronic Recruitment

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what right existing publishers will have to republish listings of jobs advertised via the electronic recruitment project; and how listings will be made available to publishers. [144824]

Mr. Hutton: Jobs which appear on the electronic recruitment site are with national health service employers. These employers are independent statutory corporations. They own the copyright to the job vacancies. The Department of Health hosts the vacancies on their behalf. The Department does not own the copyright and is not able to allow existing publishers to copy vacancies from the site for advertising in other media. The electronic recruitment project is intended to reduce the cost to the NHS of advertising job vacancies and to allow the NHS to make better use of its resources.

The project team is committed to working with existing publishers both through the digital content forum and bi-lateral meetings with individual publishers to develop the service. NHS employers will require a combination of advertising media to meet their recruitment requirements.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the percentage of NHS trusts required to use the electronic recruitment service to achieve the desired cost savings. [144826]

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Mr. Hutton: The estimated cost savings are based upon 75 per cent. of potential national health service job vacancies being advertised via the electronic recruitment service.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to charge NHS users for the services provided by the planned electronic recruitment project; and whether NHS trusts' top line recruitment budgets will be altered to fund the electronic recruitment project. [144904]

Mr. Hutton: The Electronic Recruitment Service will be funded by the Department until April 2006. The method of funding after that date is still to be determined.

EU Health Insurance Cards

Ms Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the introduction of EU health insurance cards in the UK. [143518]

Mr. Hutton: At the Barcelona European Council, the European Union member states, including the United Kingdom, signed up to a new European health insurance card to replace the existing paper form E111, to be introduced by 1 June 2004. Those countries which do not have an existing infrastructure for health card issue may apply for an extension of the date of introduction to 31 December 2005. The UK has obtained such an extension.

A decision has yet to be made on how the Council decision will be implemented in the UK. A scoping study is currently underway.

Food Supplements Directive

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what further practical assistance will be given to industry by (a) his Department and (b) the Food Standards Agency in relation to the remaining ingredients that will not benefit from the more flexible interpretation of the requirements for dossier production under the provisions of the Food Supplements Directive agreed on 14 October; and if he will make a statement. [144869]

Miss Melanie Johnson: In drafting The Food Supplements Regulations (England) 2003, the Government have already made full use of the flexibilities available in the Food Supplements Directive. The Food Standards Agency secured a valuable meeting between representatives of United Kingdom food supplements manufacturers and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on 14 October to discuss dossier requirements, and has disseminated EFSA's advice to interested parties.

Foundation Status

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many expressions of interest in membership have been received for each of the first wave of foundation applicant trusts. [144811]

Mr. Hutton: Information on expected membership numbers will be included in the formal applications made to the Independent Regulator. These applications will be placed in the Library.

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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place copies of foundation trust applications in the Library. [144951]

Mr. Hutton: The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 provides for National Health Service trusts to submit their applications for NHS foundation trust to the Independent Regulator. I will arrange for copies of the applications submitted to the Independent Regulator to be placed in the Library.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which applicants for foundation hospital trust status have indicated to him that they are considering pulling out of the application process; and what reasons they have cited. [145012]

Mr. Hutton: All 25 national health service trusts who were invited have submitted preparatory materials seeking the Secretary of State's support for an application for NHS foundation trust status.

General Practitioners

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what procedures are used to collect central statistics to monitor progress towards the 48-hour general practitioner access target; and if he will publish the latest statistics available. [144941]

Mr. Hutton: Performance is monitored through a monthly survey by primary care trusts of their general practices.

In October 2003, this survey showed that nationally, 94 per cent. of patients were able to be offered an appointment to see a general practitioner within two working days.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received from primary care trusts about the effect of high property prices on general practitioners setting up new premises; what his Department's policy is on the issue; and if he will make a statement. [144592]

Mr. Hutton: I am not aware of any general concerns raised by primary care trusts about general practitioners experiencing difficulties setting up new premises because of high property prices. The arrangements to reimburse general practitioner premises costs take account of differing property prices.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what percentage of the adult population of England are registered with a general practitioner. [145197]

Mr. Hutton: At 30 September 2002 (the latest published data), 41,635,243 people aged 16 years and over were recorded as registered with a general practitioner or provider of personal medical services in England.

It is not possible to express these figures accurately as a percentage of the adult population, as the phenomenon of "list inflation' means that registered populations are

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typically larger than actual populations. This phenomenon arises where a patient moves his or her registration and for a period may be registered on two lists. Similarly, an individual who dies or moves abroad may remain on a list for a time.


Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) consultant geriatricians and

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(b) geriatricians below the level of consultant were employed in England and Wales in each year since 1997. [145627]

Mr. Hutton: Information relating to Wales is a matter for the Welsh assembly.

The available information is shown in the table.

Hospital, public health medicine and community health services (HCHS): medical staff within the geriatric medicine specialty—England(52)
Numbers (headcount)

199719981999200020012002March 2003June 2003
All staff2,5272,5602,5052,5722,5582,707(53)(53)
Of which
All other grades1,8501,8481,7861,8051,7771,846(53)(53)

(52) Data as at 30 September 1997 to 2002, 31 March 2003 and 30 June 2003.

(53) Denotes not available. This is due to data for March and June 2003 being taken from the mini censuses which collected consultants only.

Source:Department of Health Medical and Dental Workforce Census

Between September 1997 and June 2003, consultant numbers in geriatric medicine increased by 32 per cent.

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