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21 Jan 2004 : Column 1358W—continued

Kidderminster Diagnostic and Treatment Centre

Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the reasons are for the delay in opening the Kidderminster diagnostic and treatment centre; and whether the contractors are subject to penalty payments. [148698]

Dr. Ladyman: The Kidderminster Treatment Centre has changed significantly from the project as it was originally envisaged. There has been extra investment in services and facilities, including an additional operating theatre.

The contract was agreed on a fixed price basis, which has both protected the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals national health service trust from unexpected financial pressures, and removed the need to impose penalty payments on the contractors.


Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the proportion of nurses per head of population was in (a) St. Helens, (b) Merseyside, (c) the North West and (d) England in each year since 1992. [147169]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is shown in the table.

Qualified nursing staff and practice nurses employed by unrestricted principals and Equivalents (UPEs)(49) per 1,000 of the population—England
Number (headcount)

Practice nurses16,63517,51716,50018,24317,898
Practice nurses per 1,000 of population0.350.360.340.380.37
Qualified nursing staff(53)301,253293,379289,284298,650297,351
Qualified nursing per 1,000 of population6.
of which:
North West Government Office Region
Practice nurses2,1752,1101,8622,1662,226
Practice nurses per 1,000 of population0.320.310.270.320.33
Qualified nursing staff(53)46,895
Qualified nursing per 1,000 of population6.88
of which:
Cheshire and Merseyside SHA
Practice nurses805713576713726
Practice nurses per 1,000 of population0.340.300.240.300.31
Qualified nursing staff(53)15,166
Qualified nursing per 1,000 of population6.39
of which:
St. Helens's and Knowsley HA
Practice nurses1009597104106
Practice nurses per 1,000 of population0.300.290.290.310.32
Qualified nursing staff(53)1,5941,5781,5301,5611,642
Qualified nursing per 1,000 of population4.784.724.614.724.98

Practice nurses18,38918,89419,49519,20019,84620,983
Practice nurses per 1,000 of population0.380.390.400.390.400.42
Qualified nursing staff(53)300,467304,563310,142316,752330,535346,537
Qualified nursing per 1,000 of population6.186.246.336.446.696.99
of which:
North West Government Office Region
Practice nurses2,2612,3352,5662,4112,6022,616
Practice nurses per 1,000 of population0.330.340.380.360.380.39
Qualified nursing staff(53)46,21346,90147,67248,39548,82153,373
Qualified nursing per 1,000 of population6.806.907.
of which:
Cheshire and Merseyside SHA
Practice nurses690682794782849905
Practice nurses per 1,000 of population0.290.290.340.330.360.39
Qualified nursing staff(53)14,87415,31915,76616,47317,15019,091
Qualified nursing per 1,000 of population6.296.496.717.017.308.13
of which:
St. Helens's and Knowsley HA
Practice nurses101115114110111
Practice nurses per 1,000 of population0.310.350.350.34
Qualified nursing staff(53)1,6371,6071,6521,6821,795
Qualified nursing per 1,000 of population4.974.885.045.13

(49) UPEs includes GMS unrestricted principals, PMS contracted GPs and PMS salaried GPs.

(50) Figures for 1992 to 1994 may not be fully comparable with other data due to under-reporting of fundholding practice staff by FHSAs.

(51) Includes estimated data for Buckinghamshire.

(52) Headcount practice nurse figures are estimated for these years.

(53) Refers to qualified nursing staff in the hospital, public health and community health service sectors.


1. Data as at 1 October 1992–99 and 30 September 2000–02.

2. A new classification of the non-medical workforce was introduced in 1995. Information based on this classification is not directly comparable with earlier years.

3.'—' Accurate comparable information is not available.


Department of Health General and Personal Medical Services Statistics

Department of Health Non-medical Workforce Census

2001 ONS Population Census

21 Jan 2004 : Column 1359W

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 5 January 2004, Official Report, column 203W, on nurse recruitment, if he will list the countries from which his Department has received written representations regarding the recruitment of nurses; and if he will make a statement. [148050]

Mr. Hutton: The Government has nurse recruitment agreements with Spain, the Philippines, India and Indonesia. A memorandum of understanding has recently been signed with the Government of South Africa.

The Chinese Government has recently written to the Department to ask for a meeting to discuss opportunities for nurse recruitment.

Oxfordshire Primary Care Trusts

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the proposal to amalgamate the South East Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust with the South West Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust. [148477]

21 Jan 2004 : Column 1360W

Ms Rosie Winterton: There is currently no proposal for a formal merger of the two primary care trusts (PCTs). The South East and South West Oxfordshire PCTs have been exploring ways of working more closely together in the delivery of services to their populations. This has included the appointment of a single chief executive and management structure, while retaining separate boards.

Prescription Fraud

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average annual cost of prescription fraud has been in the last five years. [148834]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The National Health Service Counter Fraud and Security Management Service (NHS CFSMS) has an ongoing programme of highly accurate risk measurement exercises—accurate to plus or minus one per cent.—designed to reveal levels of losses and, through repeated exercises, reduction in such losses, where they take place.

The latest available data on pharmaceutical patient fraud is shown in the table.

21 Jan 2004 : Column 1361W

£ million

Year data selectedFraud losses

Point of dispensing checks were introduced in all community pharmacies on 1 April 1999 to help deter this type of fraud. The check requires pharmacists to ask patients who are claiming free prescriptions to produce evidence to support their claim to exemption from prescription charges. Later data will be produced shortly.

Private Contractors

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how he will ensure that private contractors in the NHS will not be able to recruit NHS staff indirectly through private agencies. [148462]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 19 January 2004]: New treatment centres run by the independent sector will be precluded as part of the contracts they sign from poaching National Health Service staff. The recruitment of NHS staff indirectly through private agencies would breach this contract.

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health where the staff required by private contractors are expected to come from if they cannot be recruited from the NHS; and what proportion of recruitment is expected to be from abroad. [148463]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 19 January 2004]: The procurement of independent sector treatment centres (IS-TCs) is designed to contribute to a genuine increase in workforce capacity to treat national health service patients. This is why bidders have been asked to provide as many non-NHS staff as possible: primarily from overseas. In some circumstances, it will be appropriate for NHS staff to work in independent sector treatment centres but this will only be done under a structured arrangement that is agreed between the NHS and the IS-TC provider. The number of professional staff working in these new units and the proportion from overseas will be finalised during the stage of negotiations leading to contract close.

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