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9 Nov 2004 : Column 645W—continued

Medicines (Children and Infants)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the frequency of medication errors in the administration of medicines to children. [194262]


 
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Ms Rosie Winterton: Because of low reporting rates, the current incidence of medication errors within the national health service is not known. The Government have established the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) to collect, collate, review and analyse error reports and produce and disseminate solutions to ensure that we learn from errors and reduce, risk. Medication errors are an early priority for the NPSA, and its reporting and learning system will provide data on their frequency overall, and in children.

We are committed to making drug treatment for children as safe as possible and have taken a number of steps to achieve this. The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer issued guidance for health professionals and NHS organisations in January this year, entitled "Building a safer NHS for patients: improving medication safety." This included a chapter on improving medication in children. The national service framework for children, young people and maternity services, launched in October includes a standard for medicines management in children, with a chapter on safe medication practice.

Additionally, the Government launched a strategy on medicines for children in August this year, which among other issues highlighted the need for a single source of authoritative information on paediatric prescribing. The first children's British National Formulary will be available during the summer of 2005 and will be published annually thereafter.

NHS Foundation Trusts

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Regulator of NHS foundation trusts completed the vetting of the finances of each successful applicant for foundation status. [195080]

Mr. Hutton: Monitor (whose statutory name is the independent regulator of national health service foundation trusts) is an independent corporate body established under the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003. It is Monitors responsibility to authorise, monitor and regulate national health service foundation trusts (NHSFTs).

In authorising NHSFTs, Monitor must be satisfied that they are legally constituted, financially sustainable, effectively governed and locally representative. These are essential requirements for NHSFTs to be able to operate with sufficient autonomy, to deliver NHS priorities and to become increasingly responsive to local needs.

The authorisation process is a critical part in this process. Careful assessment at this stage ensures that financially sustainable NHSFTs with responsible management are established which will create a robust system and minimise the need for intervention. I am informed by the chairman of Monitor that full details of the authorisation process are set out in Monitor's publication "Applying for authorisation as an NHS Foundation Trust—A Guide for Applicants" (reference IRG 15/04) which is publicly available on their website at www.monitor-nhsft.gov.uk.
 
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I am further informed by the chairman of Monitor that consideration of each successful applicant for NHSFT status, which included the vetting of their finances, was completed at meetings of Monitor's board as follows:

NHS Foundation Trust
Date of board meetingDate of authorisation
Basildon and Thurrock University
Hospitals
30 March 20041 April 2004
Bradford Teaching Hospitals30 March 20041 April 2004
Countess of Chester Hospital30 March 20041 April 2004
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals30 March 20041 April 2004
Homerton University Hospital30 March 20041 April 2004
Moorfields Eye Hospital30 March 20041 April 2004
Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals30 March 20041 April 2004
Royal Devon and Exeter30 March 20041 April 2004
The Royal Marsden30 March 20041 April 2004
Stockport30 March 20041 April 2004
Cambridge University Hospitals28 June 20041 July 2004
City Hospitals Sunderland28 June 20041 July 2004
Derby Hospitals28 June 20041 July 2004
Gloucestershire Hospitals28 June 20041 July 2004
Guy's and St. Thomas'28 June 20041 July 2004
Papworth Hospital28 June 20041 July 2004
Queen Victoria Hospital28 June 20041 July 2004
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals28 June 20041 July 2004
University College London28 June 20041 July 2004
University Hospitals Birmingham28 June 20041 July 2004

Minutes of the meetings are publicly available on Monitor's website.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) at which NHS Foundation trusts other than Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Monitor has notified his Department of financial difficulties; [194247]

(2) when Monitor notified his Department about the financial difficulties at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; [194248]

(3) what information Monitor provides to his Department on a regular basis about the operation of foundation trusts. [194249]

Mr. Hutton: Monitor, the statutory name of which is the independent regulator of national health service foundation trusts (NHSFTs), is an independent corporate body established under the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003. It is therefore Monitor's responsibility to authorise, monitor and regulate NHSFTs.

I am informed by the chairman of Monitor that the monitoring exercise for the first quarter of the financial year identified that financial performance at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHSFT was significantly behind that forecast at the point of authorisation. At its meeting of 29 September 2004, Monitor's board concluded that formal action under section 23 of the Act (failing NHS foundation trusts) was necessary. Minutes of the meeting are publicly available on Monitor's website at www.monitor-nhsft.gov.uk.

Section 10 of the Act requires Monitor to publish a copy of any notice made under section 23 on the register of NHSFTs, which is publicly available on Monitor's website. This is the first and only occasion, to date, on which Monitor has exercised its powers under section 23 of the Act.
 
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A close working relationship is required at all levels between Monitor and the Department to ensure that both parties can effectively perform their statutory functions to ensure that the NHS continues to deliver a high and improving quality of service to the public.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in September 2004, which sets out how this relationship works in practice, while at the same time safeguarding Monitor's independence. It includes an undertaking that Monitor and the Department will keep each other promptly and regularly informed about all developments and issues in which the other party may have an interest, and to ensure that the other party is given adequate warning of, and sufficient information about, any planned public announcements which might be considered to affect the interests of the other party. A copy of the memorandum is available in the Library.

In keeping with the principles set out in the memorandum of understanding between them, Monitor advised the Department of its board's decision in early October.

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many staff with (a) accountancy and (b) similar qualifications work for the Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts; [194115]

(2) how many of the staff of the Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts previously worked in the NHS. [194116]

Mr. Hutton: Monitor, the statutory name of which is the independent regulator of national health service foundation trusts (NHSFTs), is an executive non-departmental public body and has statutory power to employ its own staff.

I am informed by the chairman of Monitor that it is by design a small organisation of less than 50 people, which has employed a variety of staff on a permanent, fixed-term, secondment and contract basis since its creation in January 2004. Staff engaged in the assessment of applicants for NHSFT status come from a variety of backgrounds, including business, financial analysis, accountancy and the NHS. Although the profile of Monitor's establishment is variable during the present start-up phase, currently, 20 of its staff are qualified accountants and three are qualified lawyers. Nine staff have previously worked in the NHS.

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the salary is of the (a) chair and (b) chief executive of the Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts. [194117]

Mr. Hutton: Monitor, the statutory name of which is the independent regulator of national health service foundation trusts, is an independent corporate body established under the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2004. Dr. William Moyes was appointed by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State (Dr. Reid), as executive chairman of Monitor in December 2003. His salary is £195,000 per annum.

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the (a) chairman, (b) chief executive and (c) other staff of the Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts have experience of (i) electoral registration and (ii) the conduct of elections. [194179]


 
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Mr. Hutton: Before a national health service trust can be authorised as a NHS foundation trust (NHSFT), Monitor, the statutory name of which is the independent regulator of NHSFTs, must be satisfied that there is a board of directors and a board of governors, formed in accordance with the NHSFT's constitution.

Elections must be held in accordance with the election rules incorporated in the constitution. Any election, if contested, must be by secret ballot. In 2005, the Department will be issuing regulations on the conduct of elections. In the meantime, we have issued guidance on electoral systems for NHS foundation trusts and a set of detailed model rules for elections.

I am informed by the chairman of Monitor that all elections for all but two out of the 20 NHSFTs authorised to date were conducted by Electoral Reform Services, the specialist balloting and related services wing of the Electoral Reform Society. In the other two cases, they were conducted by the local authority and Computershare respectively. This information, together with full details of the election results for the 20 NHSFTs authorised to date, is contained in Monitor's publication, "NHS Foundation Trusts—report on elections and membership (August 2004)" [IRREP 01/04], which is available on Monitor's website at www.monitor-nhsft.gov.uk. I understand that a copy of this report was sent to the hon. Member when it was first published. Copies are also available in the Library.


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