Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what computerisation or IT failures have occurred in public sector projects managed by her Department in each year since 1997; what the contracted cost of the project was in each case; and what estimate she has made of the direct and indirect costs of failure or breakdown in each case. 
Mr. Byrne: None. Responsibility for management of national health service and social services projects lies with individual statutory authorities. Exceptionally, since November 2002, delivery and support for implementation of the national programme for information technology (NPfTT) in the NHS has been carried out within the Department and since 1 April 2005 by the NHS "Connecting for Health" agency. The NPfTT continues to make outstanding progress, with unprecedented achievement in the procurement and deployment of technology across the NHS.
[holding answer 6 July 2005]: The Department announced on 17 August that the national health service will not be proceeding with the creation of
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an independent sector treatment centre (ISTC) in Southend, deciding instead to continue to provide clinical services through its existing facilities.
The activity required by the local health community to meet its waiting time targets and provide choice for patients, will be delivered through the next phase of independent sector procurement, which is currently going through the procurement process. All monies set aside for the scheme will be spent on patient care.
Mr. Byrne: The Department conducted a capacity planning exercise with strategic health authorities in 2004, which demonstrated that more diagnostic services were required, in order to meet waiting times targets for hospital treatment. Capacity plans showed the following:
We have invested heavily in existing national health service diagnostic capacity and will continue to do so. However, NHS providers cannot deliver such large increases in activity alone. The independent sector has an important role to play, which is why we are proceeding with a procurement of £1 billion diagnostics services from the independent sector over five years from 200607. The NHS and the independent sector together will deliver an unprecedented expansion in diagnostic services for NHS patients.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on progress with her Department's plans to procure extra capacity in diagnostics from the independent sector. 
Mr. Byrne: The procurement of additional diagnostic capacity from the independent sector is progressing well. The Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) notice formally initiating the procurement was published on 26 March 2005 and the pre-qualification questionnaire has since been distributed to the organisations that expressed an interest.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to raise awareness among (a) health professionals and (b) the public of the symptoms of digestive conditions and diseases. 
Mr. Byrne: Addressing the training needs of health professionals is the responsibility of the appropriate regulatory bodies. They set standards for the pre-registration training of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, approve the education institutions that provide the training and determine the curricula.
Post-registration training needs for national health service staff are decided against local NHS priorities, through appraisal processes and training needs analyses informed by local delivery plans and the needs of the service. Local authorities and health service providers decide how best to provide services to meet the needs of the individuals.
The NHS Plan promotes and supports self care as one of the five key service elements of a patient-centred NHSpreventive care, self care, primary care, hospital care and intermediate care. This is about promoting the involvement of patients and the public in their own treatment and care by providing appropriate facilities, for example, through information, education, training, equipment and peer support and by partnership with health and social care professionals where necessary. Patients have access to NHS Direct and NHS Direct Online, which includes a health encyclopaedia and frequently asked questions on issues such as digestive conditions.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the minimum level is of medical practice experience that the most senior non-accident and emergency doctor on a weekend hospital shift must have; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: All doctors must be appropriately qualified for the work they do. It is a professional duty of the individual doctor to work within the limits of their clinical competence and it is the duty of their national health service employer to provide a safe service to patients and to all the necessary support and supervision to staff whether at weekends or at any other time.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with (a) the Commission for Social Care Inspection and (b) other stakeholders on recommendation 7 in the Health Committee's report on elder abuse, published on 20 April 2004, in relation
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to the reporting of adverse incidents in situations where vulnerable adults are in receipt of domiciliary care services; what steps she is taking to ensure that medication systems within care homes and domiciliary care reflect good practice; and if she will make a statement on other steps she is taking to tackle elder abuse. 
Mr. Byrne: The Department has held discussions with the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and other stakeholders on recommendation 7 in the Health Committee's report on elder abuse. The outcome from this work will be fed into the review of the National Minimum Standards announced by the Government in October 2004.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many calls to NHS Direct have resulted in an emergency response in each year since 1999; and what proportion of the total number of calls this represents in each year. 
Mr. Byrne: An emergency response is deemed as a referral to 999 or an accident and emergency (A&E) department. The number of calls referred to 999 and A&E for years 2003, 2004 and 2005 are shown in the table. Data prior to 2003 can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Call referred to
Number of calls
|As a percentage
of total calls