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26 Feb 2004 : Column 572W—continued

PFI Projects

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many PFI projects in progress have (a) delayed timetables and (b) cost overruns; and if he will list the time delays and cost implications in each case. [155460]

Mr. Hutton: Indicative timetables and budgets are set for all schemes as part of their project management arrangements. During procurement, timetables are revised as necessary to reflect changed circumstances. Planned costs may also change but the scheme must remain affordable to the local health economy, and demonstrate value for money.

Firm completion dates (that is, when the hospital is open) are set only once contracts are signed for private finance initiative (PFI) schemes. To date, all major PFI schemes have been opened on or ahead of their planned completion target date.

Once contracts are signed, the risk of cost overruns is borne by the consortium.

Primary Care

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints have been received about (a) general practitioner co-operatives undertaking out

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of hours service provision and (b) private companies providing out of hours primary care on behalf of the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [154438]

Mr. Hutton: Information on the number of complaints made against either general practitioner co-operatives or private companies providing out of hours care, is not held centrally. Primary care trusts (PCTs) are responsible for ensuring that out of hours services provided meet nationally set quality standards, which include compliance with the national health service complaints procedure.

Under the new general medical services (GMS) contract, everyone who provides services out of hours, including individuals contracted by the PCT, as well as organisations, will need to meet the national quality standards. These standards are currently under review by an expert group to make them an integral part of GMS and personal medical services (PMS) contracting. Strategic health authorities have responsibility for performance managing PCTs in their delivery of out of hours services.

Commission for Health Improvement

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the costs have been of the Commission for Health Improvement in each year since its creation. [154468]

Mr. Hutton: The costs published in Commission for Health Improvement's annual accounts are shown in the table.

Cost (£ million)
1999–20001.461
2000–0111.272
2001–0222.586
2002–0328.5

Red and Yellow Cards

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) 'red' and (b) 'yellow cards' have been issued by hospitals in England in each of the past three years. [153292]

Mr. Hutton: This information is not recorded centrally. The issuing of 'red cards' and 'yellow cards' is the responsibility of the individual health bodies.

Restructuring/Change Programme

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the expected impact is of the departmental change programme on the provision of benefit and welfare services to the public; [153680]

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Mr. Hutton: The Department will be responsible for setting overall direction for the health and social care system, enabling choice in service provision, setting standards, securing resources, making the big investment decisions and holding the whole system to account through independent regulation and inspection. This will mean that the capacity needed for the whole system to operate effectively is available. Patients, service users and providers of care will all know what is expected anywhere in the country. Where standards are not being met, the Government will intervene where necessary.

The change programme will focus the Department on a more strategic role, devolving responsibility to the front line. It will change the way the Department does its business so that it can provide more effective leadership and a better service to Ministers and the public. This will result in a reduction in the size of the core Department by 1,400—from over 3,600 posts to 2,200—by October 2004.

Staff have been consulted through major events and workshops in London and Leeds to help design the Department, monthly written and face-to-face briefings and monthly workshops on human resource questions. Government Departments, agencies and other partners have been consulted through special events in June and October 2004 to help design the changes, a series of one-to-one meetings on particular issues and progress updates from the Permanent Secretary, Sir Nigel Crisp, in June and October 2004.

The restructuring will provide a slimmer, more focused centre—reducing burden and duplication in the system. New policy development processes will ensure we make the best use of resources by focusing on priorities and involving service users in policy development. New working methods will improve our accountability to Parliament and the public. The change programme will be evaluated to check its delivery.

The change programme supports the drive for better public services. It ensures that the 'centre of gravity' moves closer to the frontline. More freedom for frontline staff will lead to better services for patients and users.

Rural Health Care

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on shortages of general practitioners in rural areas. [154908]

Mr. Hutton: The Office for National Statistics (ONS) routinely publishes data classifying health authorities (HAs) into categories, including urban and rural. In the future, this will be by primary care trust. The latest published data refer to 2001. In that year, in England, the rural HAs had 59.7 unrestricted principals and equivalent (UPEs) per 100,000 registered patients, while the national average was 54.3 UPEs per 100,000 registered patients. There is, therefore, no evidence of under-doctoring in rural areas overall, although there will be some areas with recruitment difficulties.

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The Government are committed to expanding the general practitioner workforce and have implemented a range of measures to increase the supply of GPs.








Saxon Square Health Centre (Christchurch)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to the answer of 9 February 2004, Official Report, column 1209W, on Saxon Square Health Centre (Christchurch), what estimate he has made of the current value of his Department's interest in the accommodation; [155493]

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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 23 February 2004]: Since 1999, the total costs attributable to the disposal of this accommodation are in the order of £8,500 and approximately £3,000 has been spent in the last year.

Discussions are currently taking place with a national health service trust with a view to them taking responsibility for this leasehold interest.

The current estimated value for the health centre is commercially confidential.

Further negotiations will be held with the head leaseholder if and when it is in the best interests of the NHS.

Working Time Directive

Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether compliance with the European Working Time Directive for doctors in training will become a Commission for Health Improvement performance indicator. [153699]

Mr. Hutton: From April 2004, the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection will take over responsibility for developing indicators and national health service performance ratings. The latest performance indicators, published by the Commission for Health Improvement for use in the 2003–04 performance ratings, includes an indicator for qualified junior doctors' working hours. The indicator relates to post registration house officers, senior house officers and specialist registrars only.