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26 Jan 2004 : Column 177W—continued

General Medical Council

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the individuals and organisations from which his Department, its executive agencies and the non-departmental public bodies for which his Department is responsible received a response to the consultation, Reform of the General Medical Council: a paper for consultation. [149871]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 22 January 2004]: The Department of Health received responses to its consultation on the Reform of the General Medical Council from the following:

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General Practitioners

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints the Health Service Ombudsman has received about general practitioners removing patients from their practice lists in each of the past five years; how many of these complaints led to investigations; how many investigations led to criticisms of the general practitioners' decisions; and how many patients have then been reinstated on to the lists of the general practitioners concerned. [148152]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This information is not held by the Department. The Health Service Ombudsman publishes information about the handling of cases in her

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annual report, copies of which are available in the Library and on the Ombudsman's website at: www.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with primary care trusts on night-time cover following the introduction of the new contract for general practitioners. [142259]

Mr. Hutton: The Department is working closely with strategic health authorities to ensure that primary care trusts and local providers of out of hours medical services are ready to accommodate the changes arising from the new general medical services contract.


Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) for what reason there is no centre for information, screening and support on haemoglobinopathy in Havering; [147892]

Mr. Hutton: It is Department of Health policy, within the framework set out in the NHS Plan and the "Shifting the Balance of Power" initiative, to devolve funding decisions to the front line. It is now for primary care trusts (PCTs), in partnership with strategic health authorities (SHAs) and their local stakeholders, to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health based on the specialised knowledge they have of the local community.

However, I understand from the North East London SHA that Havering is regarded as a priority area for introducing screening for haemoglobinopathies. Neonatal screening started across the North East London SHA from 1 September 2003 and antenatal screening is planned to start from April 2004.

I am informed by North East London SHA that sickle cell and thalassaemia services are at present provided by a specialist unit based at Newham General Hospital. The North East London sector wide network is currently considering proposals for Havering PCT to link into the Newham sickle cell and thalassaemia service, with satellite basis for local access.

There is also a support group for sickle cell and thalassaemia, based in Romford, which is part of the Sickle Cell Society, which is part funded by the local authority.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what preparations are being made for the Government's health plan on the Haemoglobinopathy Screening Programme for pregnant women and neonates; [147896]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: Local implementation of the national health service sickle cell and thalassaemia screening programme in England is being supported by a UK National Screening Committee development programme. The programme is being developed in partnership with the key community and voluntary sector stakeholders.

Key elements of the national work include developing laboratory services, standards and quality assurance, an education and training strategy for professionals and identifying and involving communities, professionals, women and their partners.

The national team supporting the NHS implementation is based at the Department of Public Health Sciences at Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' School of Medicine in London.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the Government plans to address the change in the numbers of sickle cell and thalassaemia sufferers travelling to inner London hospitals to seek medical attention. [147897]

Mr. Hutton: The Department has already started to do preliminary work on looking at services for haemoglobinopathy patients.

The Department is working with professional organisations to consider proposals for clinical networks of services to be developed allowing patients to be cared for locally. However, it will ultimately be a decision for the primary care trusts, which have discretion over where best to commission health care from national health service hospitals or other public, private or voluntary sector health care providers.

Healthcare Costs (Patient Contributions)

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in poor health in England contributed to the cost of their healthcare on the last date for which figures are available. [148925]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We do not collect information on the number of people who contribute to the cost of their health care through national health service charges.

Health Forums

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much is being spent in supporting patient and public involvement at local level. [149765]

Ms Rosie Winterton: It is not possible to provide this information, as individual NHS trusts and primary care trusts decide how much to invest in patient and public involvement. The Government, however, have made available £35.4 million to the Commission for Patient and Public involvement in Health for 2003–04.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what changes will be required to patient and public involvement in health forums established in NHS trusts which gain foundation status. [149769]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: The Health and Social Care (Community Standards) Act 2003 requires a patients' forum to be established for national health service foundation trusts. When a NHS trust becomes a NHS foundation trust, it is intended that the membership of the patients' forum will remain the same and the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health will notify members that they are now members of a NHS foundation trust patients' forum.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health renamed the local network providers as forum support organisations; and for what reasons the change was made. [149770]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Since 1 December 2003, local network providers have been known as forum support organisations because the new name more accurately reflects their purpose of providing practical support to patients' forums.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the Commission for Patient and Public

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Involvement Forums monitors and assesses the performance of forum support organisations. [149771]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The regional centres of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health are responsible for managing the contracts placed with the forum support organisations—this includes performance management of those contracts.

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