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Health Care Professionals

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the net inflow of health care professionals to the United Kingdom was in each of the last ten years, broken down by (a) country and (b) profession. [151611]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 29 January 2004]: The information requested is not collected centrally.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council holds information on the number of initial admissions to the register by country. This information is available on the NMC's website at

The Department of Health Medical and Dental Workforce Census provides a breakdown of all doctors in the national health service broken down by United Kingdom, European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA countries, and the full data has been placed in the Library.

Health Care Workers (Communicable Diseases)

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether health care workers from overseas who are employed at NHS treatment centres are subject to compulsory tests for communicable diseases; and if he will make a statement. [151870]

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Mr. Hutton: Health care workers from overseas who are employed at national health service treatment centres will be subject to the same occupational health checks for communicable diseases as other NHS health care staff, in accordance with their duty of care to protect the health and safety of their patients. Under existing guidance, these will include checks for tuberculosis disease and for immunity to hepatitis B and chickenpox, with immunisation if appropriate.

Health Statistics

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) delayed transfers of care and (b) emergency readmissions within 28 days of discharge there were in each quarter of 2003–04, for (i) each NHS region, (ii) each strategic health authority, (iii) each NHS trust and (iv) England, broken down by (A) age and (B) in the case of the reason for delay. [152848]

Dr. Ladyman: The latest figures for 2003–04, Quarter 3 (December 2003) will be available by the middle of February, and will be placed in the Library. All the information for Quarter 1 and Quarter 2, 2003–04 is available in the Library.

Health Workers (Commonwealth)

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the United Kingdom will sign up to the code of practice for the international recruitment of health workers approved by the Commonwealth Health Ministers in May 2003. [150650]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 26 January 2004]: The United Kingdom strongly supports the principles underlying the Commonwealth code of practice on the international recruitment of health workers. We do not intend, however, to sign up to the version put forward in May 2003. That version differed from earlier versions, which had been acceptable to us, and did not reflect amendments we had suggested.

The Department has its own guidance and a code of practice embodying ethical principles for the international recruitment of healthcare workers, which are clear, explicit, and under regular review. While we support efforts to persuade more countries and bodies to adopt ethical principles for any active international recruitment they undertake, we do not regard the Commonwealth code of practice as it stands as an appropriate vehicle.

Only 22 of the (then) 54 Commonwealth countries signed up to the Commonwealth code.

Local Health Economies

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the implications of the targets set by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's community plan for local health economies. [151630]

Mr. Hutton: The Department has recognised the need to consider the implications of Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Growth Area initiative for local health economies.

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Work to assess the impact on health care need is ongoing and we are considering the appropriateness of providing extra funding for those areas affected.

Macular Degeneration

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average wait was between diagnosis of macular degeneration and first follow-up appointment with a health professional in the last period for which figures are available. [148934]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 19 January 2004]: Information on the average wait between diagnosis of macular degeneration and first follow-up appointment is not held centrally.

Information is available on the number of hospital admissions (first period of in-patient care) and average-waiting times for those diagnosed with degeneration of the macular pole. In all, there were 3,417 admissions in England in 2002–03 for degeneration of the macular pole. The average waiting time for these admissions was 67 days.

Admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year. In-patients are defined as patients who are admitted to hospital and occupy a bed, including both admissions where an overnight stay is planned and day cases.

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what support those suffering from age-related macular degeneration currently receive after diagnosis. [148935]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 19 January 2004]: In addition to any medical treatment that may be appropriate, people with vision problems affecting their quality of life can be referred for a low vision assessment. Low vision services are usually provided in a hospital setting, but in many parts of the country are being provided in locations closer to where people live, for example, in local opticians' practices and at centres for visually impaired people. It is important that the prescribing of any optical aids, and training in their use, must be done in the context of an individual's vision and the optical status of the eyes. Low vision aids, such as strong reading glasses, magnifiers or telescopes are available free on loan to any person requiring them.

Social services departments also have responsibility for assessing the needs of those who request help due to problems with their vision. Help could include aids to daily living, such as improved home lighting and hi-marks for cookers, or the provision of mobility training to enable a person to retain their independence with respect to travel.

Marshfield Road Surgery

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what basis the decision has been taken to close the Marshfield Road Surgery of Dr. Barne Williams, in Chippenham; and what procedure was used to make the decision. [151160]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 27 January 2004]: On 30 September 2002, the primary care trust (PCT) gave six months notice to terminate Dr. William's personal medical services contract (PMS) on grounds of

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breach of contract, following Dr. William's continued refusal to provide out-of-hours services to his registered patients.

Dr. Williams invoked the national health service disputes resolution procedure, pursuant to Section 4 of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990. Subsequently, an independent adjudicator was appointed pursuant to the NHS (Disputes Resolution) regulations 1996. On 17 December 2003, the independent adjudicator upheld the PCT decision that the PMS contract should terminate on 30 January 2004.

I am informed that Dr. Williams has now applied to rejoin the general medical services list and this is currently being considered by the Family Health Services Appeals Authority.

Medical Students

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the future impact on the NHS of the increase in the proportion of medical students who are female (a) in general practice and (b) in hospital medicine. [151698]

Mr. Hutton: The increasing proportion of women entering the medical profession and the impact of this on participation in the workforce is factored into the Department's workforce planning.

MMR Vaccine

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the refusal of parents to allow their children to receive the MMR vaccine affects (a) payment to the child's family doctor and (b) the star rating of the general practitioner surgery which the child attends. [151570]

Mr. Hutton: The MMR vaccine is provided to children as part of the childhood immunisation programme. General practitioners receive payment through a target system, which incentivises high levels of coverage in order to provide herd immunity. The target is achieved if they immunise an average of 70 per cent. or 90 per cent. of the children aged two or under on their patient list each quarter.

Target payment rates are:

The MMR indicator is one of 33 performance indicators in the primary care trust balance scorecard. Calculation of the ratings for 2003–04 is a matter for the new Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection.

There is no star rating system for GPs' surgeries.

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