Select Committee on Health Written Evidence


Letter from Melanie Johnson MP, Minister for Public Health, Department of Health to the Chairman of the Committee (PC 18D)

  At the oral evidence hearing into palliative care held on 26 May I undertook to consider if it was possible to provide the Committee with details of charitably run hospices in England that have junior NHS doctors on their staff. Question 317 of the transcript of evidence refers.

  As you are aware, figures from the Association for Palliative Medicine (APM) are likely to give a more accurate picture of the overall workforce than those collated by the Department of Health. This is largely because some hospice-based consultants do not have NHS contracts and are not counted in the Department's workforce study.

  Following a survey of all units in 2002, the APM identified 453 doctors working in palliative care of which the majority are working part time. The APM also conducted a survey in April 2004 which indicated that of 204 staff at Non-Clinical Consultant Grade, 73% worked part time.

  However, the obvious limitation to this data is that it is likely that not all junior doctors are registered with the Association. This will be particularly applicable to staff at SHO grade. The APM are due to undertake its next census shortly, and whilst they encourage its members in both the NHS and voluntary sector to hold NHS contracts I am aware that there is not at 100% coverage at the present time.

  At the hearing, David Amess MP also referred, at question 349, to a report regarding the administration of medication issued by the APM and the National Council for Hospice Specialist Palliative Care Services.

  To date, my officials have unfortunately been unable to locate the report referred to and I understand that this is a matter the HSC secretariat have raised with Mr Amess. I shall therefore endeavour to write to you as soon as possible on this issue, and appologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

1 July 2004

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