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12 Jan 2004 : Column 599W—continued

Emergency Readmissions

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made towards achieving the national priorities guidance performance target to reduce the per capita rate of growth in emergency readmissions of people aged 75 years or over; and for what reasons the data collection for emergency admissions was changed to an all age base from 2003–04. [146208]

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Dr. Ladyman: The performance target for the rate of emergency readmissions within 28 days of discharge for patients of all ages as set out in the priorities and planning framework for 2003–06, "Improvement, Expansion and Reform", is that there will be no growth. The rate at Quarter 4, 2002–03 was 5.5 per cent. The latest information available is the Quarter 2, 2003–04 figure, which shows no growth.

The target, and subsequently the collection of monitoring information on emergency readmissions, was changed from that relating only to patients aged 75 because it was perceived as being ageist in that older people could be denied access to hospital services in order to meet a performance target. Emergency readmissions targets and data collections have, therefore, covered all ages since 2002.


Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress his Department has made in its consideration of the indemnification of water supply companies against claims arising from fluoridation; [146011]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Section 58 of the Water Act 2003 provides for regulations to be made on both the process which strategic health authorities are to follow in order to consult and ascertain opinion on proposals to fluoridate their water supplies and the indemnities to be made available to water undertakers in respect of any liabilities which they may incur in fluoridating water. We plan to make these regulations, which are subject to affirmative resolution, during 2004. Subject to their approval, we will issue guidance to strategic health authorities on their implementation including standards for consultations which ensure that the views of both proponents and opponents of fluoridation are expressed and taken into account.

Foundation Trusts

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to approve the governance arrangements of the first wave of foundation hospitals. [145194]

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 status to the Independent Regulator. The Independent Regulator must be satisfied that the applicant's constitution is in accordance with Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care Act 2003 before granting an authorisation.

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assistance his Department will offer foundation hospitals in developing (a) ethical and (b) environmental, (i) investment, (ii) banking and (iii) procurement policies. [145716]

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Mr. Hutton: National Health Service foundation trusts will develop their own investment, banking and procurement policies, subject to any conditions set by the Independent Regulator in their terms of authorisation. NHS foundation trusts will not be subject to directions from the Department, but they will be able to continue to access guidance and best practice developed or disseminated by the Department and its agencies, including NHS Estates and the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice has been given to trusts seeking foundation status on (a) building up an active membership and (b) demonstrating their understanding of mutual organisations. [146546]

Mr. Hutton: Department of Health officials are working with the first wave of applicants for national health service foundation trust status on membership issues, which includes holding regular meetings with the trusts. The advice given at the meetings includes significant input from the mutual sector both on building an active membership and developing a better understanding of the mutual sector. This is supported by a comprehensive source book, "NHS Foundation Trusts—A guide to the governance arrangements", which was developed with advice from a group of external experts on governance.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance is issued to NHS Trusts on the disposal of NHS assets; and what changes are proposed as a result of foundation status being achieved. [146547]

Mr. Hutton: Guidance on the disposal of surplus national health service property assets is contained in the Department's "Estatecode", a copy of which is available in the Library. Guidance on the accounting treatment for disposals of assets is contained in the NHS "Capital Accounting Manual", which is publicly available on the Department's web-site at www.

Section 16 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 prevents NHS foundation trusts from disposing of NHS property designated as protected without the approval of the

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Independent Regulator. The Independent Regulator will be issuing guidance on this to NHS foundation trusts.

General Practitioners

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which primary care trusts have indicated that they will not be able to assure out-of-hours cover for general practitioners in (a) April 2004 and (b) August 2004. [143188]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 11 December 2003]: None. From April 2004, general practices will be able to opt out of out-of-hours services with the agreement of their primary care trust (PCT). PCTs will not agree to opt-outs unless they have put in place proper alternative arrangements. Opting out will become a right in all but exceptional circumstances from January 2005.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of general practitioners have indicated that they intend to opt out of 24-hour cover, broken down by (a) rural practices, (b) urban practices and (c) strategic health authority. [143189]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 11 December 2003]: Primary care trusts are working with their local practices to establish the position, but full information is not available. We expect, however, that the majority of general practitioners will choose to opt-out of responsibility for providing services overnight and at weekends.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) general practitioners' surgeries and (b) single-handed general practitioners' surgeries there were in each of the last five years for which figures are available in (i) England, (ii) each region and (iii) each strategic health authority. [144318]

Mr. Hutton: Data on the number of general practitioner partnerships, including single-handed practitioners is published annually and is available at http://www. The information requested is shown in the table. The total number of partnerships fell during the period 1998 to 2003 however there has been a steady trend towards larger partnerships and more general practitioners working in the national health service than ever before.

Single-handed unrestricted principals and equivalents (UPEs)(23)by strategic health authority
England    Numbers (headcount)

UPE partners hipsof which: single-handedUPE partners hipsof which: single-handedUPE partners hipsof which: single-handed
England total 8,9942,6838,9442,6318,8782,485
Number of UPEs27,39227,59127,704
Northumberland, Tyne & Wear243562395423852
Country Durham & Tees Valley176501714116637
North & East Yorkshire & Northern Lincolnshire273702686926369
West Yorkshire378110382114377110
Cumbria & Lancashire386128385127379125
Greater Manchester581219577210579213
Cheshire & Merseyside438117442122445125
South Yorkshire233622336623265
Midlands & Eastern2,5477262,5317162,521706
Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire307403053630738
Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire238572314723352
Leicestershire, Northamptonshire & Rutland240622326122556
Shropshire & Staffordshire266892729527097
Birmingham & the Black Country542240540237535226
Coventry, Warwickshire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire240442364023639
North West London469217464209458209
North Central London312147304140305137
North East London385186380182378178
South East London311121308122302112
South West London259832558224877
Thames Valley299523045030047
Hampshire & Isle of Wight241282412824026
Kent & Medway324139314126306113
Surrey & Sussex379743797537571
Avon, Gloucestershire & Wiltshire322433264232544
South West Peninsula254282542925428
Dorset & Somerset184271872718727

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20012002June 2003
UPE partners hipsof which: single-handedUPE partners hipsof which: single-handedUPE partners hipsof which: single-handed
England total 8,8172,5348,7482,4828,7502,485
Number of UPEs27,84328,03128,384
Northumberland, Tyne & Wear237482354323545
Country Durham & Tees Valley167341683617640
North & East Yorkshire & Northern Lincolnshire265702667426567
West Yorkshire37810837599378101
Cumbria & Lancashire375122368117365117
Greater Manchester562201555202553196
Cheshire & Merseyside440127439127437123
South Yorkshire229592266222661
Midlands & Eastern2,5067092,4786982,477707
Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire309443013730438
Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire230532295123051
Leicestershire, Northamptonshire & Rutland226532234822654
Shropshire & Staffordshire271104267100271106
Birmingham & the Black Country534234529237528235
Coventry, Warwickshire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire232352313922939
North West London459200448191463202
North Central London306137310142320157
North East London380192378191372182
South East London304114297109305117
South West London242742426823859
Thames Valley296392974129740
Hampshire & Isle of Wight238252402423527
Kent & Medway305115299110289100
Surrey & Sussex367693676036661
Avon, Gloucestershire & Wiltshire324423233832539
South West Peninsula252272522825027
Dorset & Somerset185221852217817

(23) UPEs include QMS Unrestricted Principals, PMS Contracted GPs and PMS Salaried GPs.


Data as at 1 October 1998–99, 30 September 2000–02 and 30 June 2003

'Single-handed' means an UPE who is not in partnership with another UPE although many so called 'single-handers' work with another GP qualified doctor.


Department of Health General and Personal Medical Services Statistics

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