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Care Homes

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the proportion of elderly patients in care and residential homes who are (a) malnourished and (b) assessed as being at risk of becoming malnourished; [147313]

Dr. Ladyman: According to the "National Diet and Nutrition Survey: people aged 65 years and over", published in 1998, 16 per cent. of men and 15 per cent. of women living in care homes were classified as underweight. The more recent Health Survey for England 2000 gave figures of 8 per cent. for men and 11 per cent. for women. In both cases, underweight was defined as a person with a body mass index of less than 20. We do not have figures estimating people at risk of becoming malnourished.

We have no plans to introduce mandatory screening for malnutrition for people in care homes. A number of measures and strategies are in place to manage, monitor and screen people for under nutrition in care homes. Before going into a home every resident should have a detailed needs assessment. This includes nutrition and screening for malnutrition. The assessment should be revised at regular intervals. The home should draw up a care plan for each resident based on his or her needs assessment. The care plan should be reviewed at least once a month to monitor changes in the resident's needs.

The National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) regulates care homes in accordance with statutory regulations and national minimum standards to ensure they provide for the needs of their residents. The Care Homes Regulations require homes to provide adequate quantities of suitable, wholesome and nutritious food for service users; and to maintain records of the food provided for service users in sufficient detail to enable inspectors to determine whether the diet is satisfactory, in relation to nutrition and otherwise. Standard 19 of the national standards for care homes for older people sets out what care homes are expected to do to ensure

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residents are properly fed. This includes giving people assistance with eating where necessary. The NCSC will take swift action where it has concerns about the welfare of residents.


Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the change in full-time equivalents in post in the dental workforce as a result of early retirement was in each year since 1990. [147501]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The available information shown in the table from the NHS Pensions Agency is for the number of pensions awarded where a national health service pension has been claimed prior to the scheme's normal retirement age. These will include pensions paid on the grounds of ill health, premature retirements following redundancy and voluntary early retirement before age 60 (introduced from 6 March 1995). Since 1997, the number of dentists working in the NHS general dental service (GDS) in England has increased from 16,728 to 18,500, but dentists can vary the amount of dental work they do and the proportion carried out in the GDS.

Early retirement of dentists

Total dentist pension awards

Departmental Staff

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS employees were expelled in each of the last five years. [148945]

Mr. Hutton: This information is not held centrally.

Diagnostic and Treatment Centres

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which inspectorate (1) (a) has responsibility and (b) will have responsibility after 1 April for (i) registering and (ii) inspecting independent diagnostic and treatment centres; [148681]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 19 January 2004]: Currently, the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) has responsibility, under the Care Standards Act 2000, for registering and inspecting independent treatment centres in England against the National Minimum Standards and Regulations issued by the Secretary of State in February 2002.

The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) also has powers, under the NHS Reform and Healthcare Professions Act 2002, to inspect the clinical governance arrangements of treatment centres providing healthcare for national health service bodies.

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From 1 April 2004, responsibility for these functions will transfer from the NCSC and CHI to the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection (CHAI, under the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003. CHAI will also publish an annual report to Parliament on the state of healthcare, which will include a section on what it has found as the registration authority of independent health care providers.


Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what further plans he has for the use of e-auction as a method of purchasing clinically prescribed equipment in the NHS [R]; [149051]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 19 January 2004]: E-auctions have been used extensively in the private sector and have resulted in significant savings.

The national health service Purchasing and Supply Agency (PASA) is conducting pilot e-auctions to establish if they will provide best value for money for the NHS and in which areas they are most effective.

Five e-auctions had been carried out up to the end of December 2003, which had resulted in savings to the NHS of £16 million pounds. PASA will fully evaluate the results of these pilot exercises from March 2004, and make recommendations on the future use of e-auctions in the NHS.

Hospital Beds (Lincolnshire)

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what change in the number of beds available for NHS treatment in Pilgrim Hospital, Boston there has been in each year since 1995. [148476]

Dr. Ladyman: Information on the average daily number of beds is collected annually from each national health service trust. Information is not collected for individual hospital sites.

The number of available beds from 1995–96 to 1999–2000 for Pilgrim Health NHS Trust is shown in table 1. In April 2000, Pilgrim Health merged with two other NHS trusts to form United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Information on available beds for this trust is shown in table 2.

Table 1: average daily number of available beds in wards open overnight, Pilgrim Health NHS Trust, 1995–96 to 1999–2000

YearTotal bedsChange from previous year


Department of Health form KH03.

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Table 2: average daily number of available beds in wards open overnight. United Lincolnshire NHS Trust, 2000–01 to 2002–03

YearTotal bedsChange from previous year


Department of Health form KH03.

IT Contracts

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost was of the computer contract signed between his Department and BT; what the contract covers; what time period is covered by the contract; whether this technology will be available to help the roll-out of broadband in rural areas; and if he will make a statement. [147917]

Mr. Hutton: Two separate contracts have been awarded to BT under the national programme for information technology in the national health service in England:

Depending on the proof of solution, successful roll-out and ongoing performance, both contracts will run until 2013.

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The contracts do not cover the provision of new national networking services and broadband capacity for the NHS. This is the subject of a separate procurement exercise and is expected to be concluded in the first quarter of 2004. The delivery of new systems across the NHS will be dependent upon network provision.

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