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Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1)what contribution she expects patient and public involvement forums to make to developing health policy; and if she will make a statement; 
refer matters of concern to overview scrutiny committees and the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, strategic health authorities, the Healthcare Commission and the National Patient Safety Agency, and to any other person or body the forums deem appropriate, including the media.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the risks of transferring unaccompanied patients between accident and emergency units by taxi in the absence of available ambulances. 
Mr. Byrne: It is for the local national health service to ensure appropriate transport and governance arrangements are in place to support the transfer of patients between accident and emergency departments.
The NHS Modernisation Agency issued Driving Change: Good practice guidelines for Primary Care Trusts on commissioning arrangements for emergency ambulance services and non-emergency patient transport services" in September 2004.
In 1991, the Department issued guidance on Ambulance and other patient transport services: Operation, use and performance standards", which includes reference to performance standards and quality of service issues.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information is provided by primary care trusts to her Department for the (a) Primary Care Access Survey and (b) Service and Financial Framework, as referred to on page 18 of the Department of Health Departmental Report 2005; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: The Service and Financial Framework return process referred to in the departmental report has been replaced by local delivery plans from 200304. Otherwise, I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 5 July 2005, Official Report, column 348W.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to the answer of 4 July 2005, Official Report, columns 22627W, on private diagnostic and treatment centres, if she will list the organisations for whom the subjects of the nine waivers wished to work; and what their profession was in each case; 
21 Jul 2005 : Column 2179W
(2) whether any private sector provider has secured a general waiver or waivers of the rules restricting the employment of former NHS health professionals. 
Organisation for which the subject wished to
work (so far as we are aware from the
application details supplied)
wishing to pursue in
|National Health Service (working first in a non- clinical role with Netcare)||Consultant|
|UK Specialist Hospitals/ORI International||Nurse|
|Netcare Healthcare (UK) Ltd.||Consultant|
|Not confirmed at the time of application||Consultant|
|NHS (locum work prior to an offer of employment in an ISTC)||Consultant|
|Netcare (UK) Ltd.||Consultants|
|Netcare (UK) Ltd.||Consultant|
Mr. Byrne: No. The General Medical Council holds lists of medical practitioners eligible to work in the United Kingdom, whether in the national health service or in private practice. Primary care trusts are required to hold lists of those general practitioners working in the NHS performing primary medical services.
This guidance required every NHS trust and health authority (HA) to have in place policies and procedures which comply with the Act. A policy pack, So Long Silencer" was subsequently produced, in partnership with Public Concern at Work", and issued to all trusts and HAs in July 2003.
This pack included materials to help employers develop effective whistle-blowing policies and procedures and to promote a climate of openness and dialogue in the NHS. A complementary pack, tailored for the use of general practitioners, will be issued shortly by NHS employers and Public Concern at Work.
21 Jul 2005 : Column 2180W
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhether she has issued a direction banning the NHS from using recruitment agencies which have not signed up to the code of practice on international recruitment. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 19 July 2005]: No direction has been issued to the national health service to comply with the code of practice for international recruitment of healthcare professionals, but the NHS is commended to use only recruitment agencies that comply with the code of practice for domestic and international recruitment.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures can be taken to sanction (a) NHS organisations and (b) independent sector providers who use recruitment agencies which are not included on the list of agencies compliant with the code of practice on international recruitment. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 20 July 2005]: National health service organisations are strongly commended to adhere to the code of practice. NHS Employers monitor the code of practice and any exceptions are brought to the attention of the relevant chief executive for appropriate action.
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 7 July 2005, Official Report, columns 58384W on scanning services, what the evidential basis was for the calculation of the average waiting time for diagnostic scans in Barnsley referred to in the Guardian newspaper on 2 July. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 18 July 2005]: The figures quoted in the article were based on reliable information provided by Alliance Medical Ltd. relating to the reduction in waiting time for a non-urgent magnetic resonance imaging scan before and after the mobile scanning unit's visit to the area.
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what mechanisms her Department will use to determine whether Alliance Medical has increased clinical capacity in the number of MRI scans carried out. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 18 July 2005]: The Department tendered and awarded the fast-track mobile magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contract to augment existing national health service capacity by providing additional diagnostic services and staff.
The service provided by Alliance Medical Ltd. (AML) represents a 15 per cent. increase in the MRI capacity available to the NHS and equates to approximately 131,000 extra scans per year. To ensure delivery of this, data is collected regularly on the number of NHS referrals made and scans performed by AML. Performance is monitored weekly, quarterly and annually in accordance with the contract.
21 Jul 2005 : Column 2181W
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the impact has been on the working practices of staff at the University Hospital North Durham of the mobile scanning unit provided by Alliance Medical. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 4 July 2005, Official Report, column 201W, on Alliance Medical, on what basis her Department concluded that Alliance Medical would improve patient care. 
Mr. Byrne: Faster, more accurate diagnosis for patients should improve clinical outcomes and give patients more certainty and control over their conditions. Some non-invasive investigations such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may even reduce the need for surgery. That is why we are committed to increasing capacity both in the national health service and through use of the independent sector in order to deliver the maximum 18-week target from general practitioner referral to start of treatment.
The Department tendered and awarded the fast-track mobile magnetic resonance imaging contract on the basis that the successful company could deliver the additional diagnostic capacity required to a standard at least that of the NHS.
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 19 July 2005]: The information requested is gathered centrally on a national health service basis. The table shows the staff employed to provide diagnostic scanning services at the County Durham and Darlington Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
|Total diagnostic radiography staff||116|
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health by how much the scanning services provided by Alliance Medical have reduced the average waiting time for scans in the County Durham and Tees Valley strategic health authority area. 
Mr. Kevan Jones:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when the annual review of Alliance Medical's contract to provide diagnostic scanning services to the NHS will take place; 
21 Jul 2005 : Column 2182W
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 11 July 2005]: The annual review of the Alliance Medical Limited (AML) contract will commence in July and a decision on what can be published consistent with commercial confidentiality will be taken later.
The service offered by AML is helping to tackle long waits for magnetic resonance imaging and is contributing to reducing the total time that patients wait from general practitioner referral to start of treatment to a maximum of 18 weeks by 2008, as promised in the Party's election manifesto.
We believe that patient experience under this contract is at least equal to that within the national health service and AML's patient surveys consistently show around a 96 per cent. satisfaction rate.
(2) pursuant to the answer of 5 July 2005, Official Report, column 346W, on diagnostic scans, how her Department will verify whether Alliance Medical Ltd. has carried out the number of diagnostic scans which their contract stipulates; 
Mr. Byrne [holding answers 11 and 12 July 2005]: Data is collected monthly on the number of national health service referrals made and scans performed by Alliance Medical Ltd. (AMI). Performance is monitored weekly, quarterly and annually in accordance with the contract.
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the value of Alliance Medical's contract to provide scanning services in the NHS is considered commercially sensitive. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 11 July 2005]: Alliance Medical Limited provided a competitive price in negotiations. This was based on the Department not revealing their price either to competitors or to other organisations with whom they have contracts.
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