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15 Jun 2005 : Column 508W—continued


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much of the allocated capital funding for years (a) one and (b) two has been spent on digital cameras and related software for the screening of people with diabetes. [2810]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Information is collected in the accounts of national health service bodies on capital spending by the Department. However, this is at an aggregated level and cannot identify individual items or types of items within the overall categories of software and information technology equipment purchases.

Diagnostic and Treatment Centres

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what checks are made to ensure that private diagnostic and treatment centres are complying with her Department's requirement that none of their staff have worked for the NHS in the preceding six months; [3572]

(2) whether the restrictions on private diagnostic and treatment centres recruiting NHS staff applies to agency staff working in the NHS. [3573]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 13 June 2005]: Independent sector providers report to the Department monthly on a wide range of performance indicators including additionality. Independent sector providers are contractually obliged to ensure that additional staff working in independent sector treatment centres have not worked in the national health service for the previous six months. Regular joint service reviews are conducted on the data that are submitted and should any breaches or waivers be revealed the Department would investigate these.

The employment of agency staff by independent sector treatment centres is a matter for the independent sector provider as an employer.

Digital Hearing Aids

Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the average waiting time is for patients to be fitted with a digital hearing aid at the Royal Surrey County Hospital; [3825]

(2) what representations she has received on the change in her Department's national guidelines on the fitting of digital hearing aids; and if she will make a statement; [3826]
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(3) for what reasons patients fitted with analogue hearing aids in the past three years are ineligible to be fitted with digital hearing aids; and if she will make a statement. [3827]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 13 June 2005]: Information on waiting times is not held centrally.

There have been no changes to the national guidelines for fitting digital hearing aids since this Government became the first to make digital hearing aids free of charge in September 2000.

General guidelines issued by the modernisation hearing aid services (MHAS) programme include a recommendation that patients who have been fitted with, or offered, a hearing aid through the NHS service for the first time within the previous three years should be offered a digital aid only when they are reassessed and found to need new aids. These guideline are intended to ensure that the needs of people without a hearing aid and those with older hearing aids are addressed before the needs of people with a recently fitted aid. Use of these guidelines is subject to local clinical discretion.

Direct Payments (Disabled People)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will simplify the paperwork relating to the qualification for and management of direct payments for people with long-term disabilities. [4643]

Mr. Byrne: The Department is aware that some people are deterred from taking up direct payments because of the paperwork involved in becoming an employer. This is why we introduced the direct payments development fund in 2003. The fund is worth £3 million each year over three years. It aims to support voluntary organisations in partnership with their local councils in building up the support services we have learnt are fundamental to the success of direct payments.

In addition, following the publication of the Green Paper, Independence, Well-being and Choice", we are consulting on the viability of a new approach. It would offer the real benefit of choice and the control of direct payments without the potential burdens. This approach involves individual budgets which are held by the local authority on behalf of the person using services and who would work with them to arrange the appropriate support.

Fertility Treatment

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance her Department has provided to (a) strategic health authorities and (b) primary care trusts on the eligibility criteria for IVF treatment provided by the NHS since 25 February 2005; [3946]

(2) whether her Department has issued guidance to (a) strategic health authorities and (b) primary care trusts on how to prioritise fertility treatment for patients according to social criteria; [3947]

(3) what steps her Department has taken to assess compliance with the announcement on the availability of IVF treatment made by the then Secretary of State for Health on 25 February 2005; [3948]
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(4) how many primary care trusts have produced clinical guidance on the availability of IVF treatment to women in their area following the announcement made by the then Secretary of State for Health on 25 February 2005. [3949]

Caroline Flint: On 26 February 2004, the Department's Chief Executive's bulletin to the national health service included the following:

The Department and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recognised that it would take time for the guideline to be fully implemented across the NHS. The primary responsibility for implementing NICE guidelines rests with the NHS at local level. The consideration that primary care trusts (PCTs) give to this is part of the range of factors that they, in liaison with local health bodies and patients groups, take into account in deciding their policy on the provision of treatment services for their locality. This policy will, quite rightly, reflect local health needs and priorities.

Compliance with NICE guidance by NHS organisations will be considered by the Healthcare Commission during its review and performance assessment processes.

We do not collect information centrally on the local provision of assisted treatment services or the guidance that PCTs issue about it.

Flexi-menus (Hospitals)

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she plans to establish pilots for flexi-menus in NHS hospitals, as described by the Minister of State, Lord Warner, in The Daily Telegraph on 16 March; and which NHS hospitals will conduct the pilots. [3353]

Jane Kennedy: Flexi-menu trials have recently been undertaken at Pilgrim Hospital, Lincolnshire, and Salisbury Hospital, Wiltshire. Further trials are also planned at Solihull Hospital, West Midlands, Central Middlesex Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital, London, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich and Addenbrookes, Cambridge.

Foreign Nurses

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many foreign nurses were employed in the NHS in Staffordshire (a) in 1997, (b) in 2001 and (c) on the latest date for which figures are available; and what percentage of the total those figures represent in each case. [3303]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is not held centrally.
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General Practitioners (North Shropshire)

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many full-time equivalent NHS general practitioners have been employed in North Shropshire constituency in each of the last five years. [2790]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: The information is not available in the requested format. However, information relating to the estimated numbers of full-time equivalent (fte) general medical practitioners, excluding retainers and registrars 1 , for Shropshire and Staffordshire strategic health authority (SHA) and Shropshire county primary care trust (PCT) is shown in the table.
Estimated full-time equivalents

20002001200220032004December 2004
Shropshire and Staffordshire SHA749741756785799798
Shropshire County PCTn/a155157162167168

(46) General medical practitioners, excluding retainers and registrars, includes contracted general practitioners, general medical service (GMS) others and personal medical service (PMS) others. Prior to September 2004, this group included GMS unrestricted principals, PMS contracted GPs, PMS salaried GPs, restricted principals, assistants, salaried doctors (Para 52 SFA), PMS other, flexible career scheme GPs and GP returners.
Data as at 30 September every year, except 31 December 2004
n/a denotes not available.
Fte data has been estimated using the results from the 1992–93 GMP workload survey
For 1994–2003—contracted GPs—full-time =. 1.00 fte; three quarter time = 0.69 fte; job share = 0.65 fte; and half time = 0.60 fte; Other GP types full-time = 1.00 fte; part-time = 0.6 fte.
For 2004—all GPs—full-time = 1.0 fte; part-time = 0.6 fte, and therefore may not be fully comparable with previous years.
Fte GP retainers have been estimated using a factor of 0.12 per session for 1994–2004.
National health service health and social care information centre QMS and PMS statistics.

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