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NHS Pensions

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the proposed new NHS pension arrangements on
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levels of early retirement in advance of the deadline for transfer to the new scheme; and if he will make a statement. [223062]

Mr. Hutton: The NHS Confederation is currently consulting scheme members and other interested parties on proposals for changes to the NHS Pension Scheme for England and Wales. Consultation closes on 11 April. Ministers will make decisions on changes to the scheme following consultation, taking full account of the responses received and of the likely impact of changes on the recruitment and retention of high quality and motivated staff.

Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many mothers due to give birth to premature babies in Oxfordshire were sent elsewhere in the UK because the Oxford Radcliffe NHS trust was unable to admit them either at the John Radcliffe or Horton hospitals in the last three years. [222559]

Dr. Ladyman: This information is not collected centrally.


Mr. Luke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will meet a party of hon. Members and members of the Seroxat Users' Group. [222409]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 17 March 2005]: My noble friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Lord Warner) has agreed to meet with the hon. member to discuss the concerns of the Seroxat Users' Group and is in correspondence to clarify these concerns.
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Social Workers

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many social workers (a) are and (b) have yet to be fully registered. [222202]

Dr. Ladyman: Data provided by the General Social Care Council (GSCC), on behalf of the Department, shows that 61,676 social workers have applied for registration with the GSCC. Of these, all are either fully registered or are through the initial stages of the registration process. 33,803 were registered by noon on 18 March 2005, which is the majority of those that applied before the cut-off date. Remaining applicants will be registered within three months.

Strategic Health Authorities

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the future of strategic health authorities. [218924]

Mr. Hutton: I refer my hon. Friend to Creating a Patient-led NHS, Delivering the NHS Improvement Plan", which is available in the Library. Chapters three and five of this document include information on the future role of strategic health authorities.

Strategy Documents

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) white papers, (b) green papers and (c) key strategy documents have been published by his Department since 1997, broken down by (i) title and (ii)date of publication. [218109]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Since May 1997, the Department has published 10 White Papers, five Green Papers and 34 other key strategy documents, which are shown in the table.
White papers
The new NHS: modern, dependable1997
Modernising social services: promoting independence, improving protection, raising standards1998
Smoking kills: a White Paper on tobacco1998
The Food Standards Agency: a force for change1998
Saving lives: Our Healthier Nation1999
The NHS plan: a plan for investment, a plan for reform2000
Valuing people: a new strategy for learning disability for the 21st century2001
Building on the best: choice, responsiveness and equity in the NHS2003
Our inheritance, our future: realising the potential of genetics in the NHS2003
Choosing health: making healthy choices easier2004
Green Papers
Our healthier nation: a contract for health1998
Adoption: a new approach2000
Reforming the Mental Health Act2000
Mental Health Bill consultation document2002
Draft Mental Health Bill2004
Other key strategy documents
A first class service quality in the new NHS1998
Information for health: an information strategy for the modern NHS, 1998–20051999
National service framework for diabetes1999
National service framework for mental health1999
A quality strategy for social care1999
Agenda for change: modernising the NHS pay system2000
National service framework for coronary heart disease2000
Pharmacy in the future: implementing the NHS Plan2000
Quality and performance in the NHS2000
The NHS cancer plan: a plan for investment, a plan for reform2000
Building a safer NHS for patients: implementing an organisation with a memory2001
National service framework for older people2001
Shifting the balance of power within the NHS: securing delivery2001
The national strategy for sexual health and HIV: better prevention, better services, better sexual health2001
Consultant contract framework2002
Getting ahead of the curve: a strategy for combating infectious diseases (including other aspects of health protection)2002
Hepatitis C strategy for England2002
HR in the NHS Plan: more staff working differently2002
Improvement, expansion and reform: the next three years priorities and planning framework, 2003–20062002
Introducing payment by results: the NHS financial reforms2002
National suicide prevention strategy for England2002
NHS dentistry: options for change2002
Patient and public involvement: the future picture2002
Delivering the NHS Plan: next steps on investment, next steps on reform2002
Confidentiality the Caldicott way2003
Developing NHS Direct: a strategy document for the next three years2003
Keeping the NHS local: a new direction of travel2003
National service framework for children, young people and maternity services2004
National service framework for renal services2004
Practice based commissioning2004
Reconfiguring the Department of Health's arm's length bodies2004
Standards for better health2004
The NHS improvement plan: putting people at the heart of public services2004
National service framework for long term conditions2005

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Like previous Governments, we have published many other documents, including responses to parliamentary committee's reports.

Surgical Instruments

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment has been made of the need for the individual coding of surgical instruments under contract requirements for the new regional super centres being established for the decontamination of surgical instruments; [220579]

(2) how many NHS hospital trusts have a bar code system in place for the management of surgical instruments; [220580]

(3) what assessment has been made of the likely effect on patient safety of adopting bar coding for individual surgical instruments; [220581]

(4) what assessment has been made of the merits of adopting a system of individual surgical instrument traceability in NHS trusts; [220582]

(5) what assessment has been made of the implementation of the guidance in Health Service Circular 2000/32 regarding systems for the tracing of surgical instrument sets to patients on whom they have been used; [220588]

(6) if he will require the use of bar coding for surgical instruments in those areas where sterile service super centres are to be introduced; [220634]

(7) how many NHS trusts have the capacity to identify individual surgical instruments used after a high risk patient has been identified. [220635]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department's guidance on the tracking of surgical instruments is contained in Health Service Circular (HSC) 2000/032 (Decontamination of Surgical Instruments). This asked chief executives of national health service trusts to have taken steps, by April 2002, towards having systems in
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place to enable the tracing of surgical instrument sets to patients on whom they have been used. The presence (or absence) of such a system was taken into account in assessing each NHS trust's compliance with the Department's guidance made as part of the Review of the decontamination of surgical instruments in the NHS in England", published in December 2001. NHS trusts are not required to report to the Department which tracing system they use.

Compliance with the provisions of the Medical Devices Directive (93/42 EEC)—compulsory for commercial reprocessing centres providing a service to the NHS—implies the ability to track surgical instruments through the system. It does not—and nor does Departmental guidance—require any particular form of marking, such as bar codes, to be used. The detailed contents of contracts between NHS organisations and private sector providers of decontamination services are a matter for the parties concerned.

The Department's guidance on handling instruments used on suspected CJD patients or in certain brain biopsies recommends that such instruments should be quarantined pending confirmation of a diagnosis. All hospitals that have implemented the guidance in HSC 2000/032 will have the capacity to do this. Other than the review published in 2001, no complete survey of their compliance has been undertaken.

The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA) has commissioned a survey that includes tracking and tracing systems in use in NHS trusts. NHS PASA is also discussing with the NHS the technologies presently available for marking instruments, such as laser etching; and those being developed, such as the implantation of radio frequency identification chips in individual instruments.
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