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7 Dec 2005 : Column 1403W—continued

Departmental Consultation

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will list the consultation exercises undertaken by her Department in the last two years, indicating
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(a) how many consultation responses were received, (b) how many stakeholders were engaged in the consultation, (c) what the total cost of each consultation exercise was and (d) what the cost per participant of the consultation was; [26382]

(2) how many stakeholders have been engaged in the Government's Your Health, Your Care, Your Say consultation exercise; and if she will make a statement. [26385]

Mr. Byrne: A total of 254 people attended the four regional events in Gateshead, Leicester, London and Plymouth and 998 people attended the citizen's summit in Birmingham on 29 October.

When the consultation closed on 4 November, 147 feedback forms had been received from local deliberative consultation events. In addition, over 18,000 on-line questionnaires have been completed and approximately 15,500 hard copies of the questionnaire have been returned. Over 60 letters have also been received from interested stakeholders in response to the consultation.

Representatives from over 60 statutory and non-statutory bodies were involved in five policy taskforces. A series of five academic seminars were also held, involving over 40 individuals from a variety of organisations. In addition, Ministers and officials met representatives of a wide range of stakeholder organisations at specially arranged and routine meetings to inform them about the exercise and to hear their views.

Around 750 organisations were contacted and invited to register with a website which enabled interested stakeholders to keep up to date with the consultation, access key documents for holding consultation events and enable an exchange of views and ideas with other organisers of local events. Contact was maintained through a regular newsletter.

Representatives from around 150 organisations attended a workshop on 19 July to discuss the best ways of involving stakeholders in the consultation and the resources required to make it a success. Around a further 120 organisations attended a briefing event about the consultation process and the website on 8 September.

A number of stakeholder organisations have put information about the consultation on their websites and some have put links through to the Your Health, Your Care, Your Say" questionnaire.

Departmental Website

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints regarding the operation of her Department's website were received in 2004–05; and how many of these were responded to within (a) one working day, (b) five working days and (c) longer than five working days. [31493]

Jane Kennedy: The Department's central web team manages all inquiries relating to the operation of the Department's website. All such inquiries are logged and responded to within five working days. Complaints are not logged or dealt with separately from general inquiries.
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Prior to July 2004, website-related inquiries were not collated by topic. Therefore, we are only able to provide total numbers of inquiries dealt with per month from
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April to June 2004. From July 2004, website-related inquiries have been broken down into categories as shown in the table.
Inquiries received by topic April 2004 to March 2005

Broken/wrong links/old urls381627
Publication dates/ search date range310
Search/ finding information613627
Improvements suggested973
Request to exchange links428
Miscellaneous (including positive feedback)131022
Site/services down240
Incorrect/out of date information101013
Not about the Department's site/not for web team211014

Broken/wrong links/old urls182011111815
Publication dates/ search date range101000
Search/ finding information403727171931
Improvements suggested378556
Request to exchange links521322
Miscellaneous (including positive feedback)16961647
Printing/ downloading11152510
Site/services down01021218
Incorrect/out of date information453335
Not about the Department's site /not for web team21515202231


Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the current rate is of under-employment among trained doctors. [27954]

Mr. Byrne: Information on the current rate of under-employment among trained doctors is not held centrally.

Flu Vaccines

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps have been taken in co-operation with industry to increase the capacity available to produce vaccine to counter a pandemic of a human variant of avian influenza. [34994]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 6 December 2005]: We are meeting with the manufacturers of ordinary flu vaccine to explore how we can work with industry to develop pandemic flu vaccines as quickly as possible after the virus is isolated. We are actively exploring a range of preparatory steps with manufacturers in order to improve the prospects of early delivery of pandemic influenza vaccines.

We are working with the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and others to see how to rationalise the testing process, which ensures that a safe vaccine is produced. We are working with NIBSC to develop a library of reference strains, which may help accelerate the vaccine development process.

FSA (Salt Campaign)

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total cost is of the Food Standard Agency's television campaign on salt; and if she will make a statement. [33197]

Caroline Flint: The Food Standards Agency committed £3.6 million to a seven and a half week advertising campaign, which ran between 10 October to 30 November.

General Medical Services Contract

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to amend the time at which the out-of-hours period (a) begins and (b) ends in the General Medical Services contract. [32331]

Mr. Byrne: One of the major themes coming out of the 'Your Health, Your Care, Your Say' public consultation is that people would prefer general practices to offer extended opening hours. The Department will be working with general practitioners, nurses, practice managers and stakeholder groups like the British Medical Association on how best to achieve this and proposals will be set out in the forthcoming White Paper on improving community health and care.
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Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions she has had with relevant NHS organisations on the future configuration of hospital services in the Hammersmith hospitals NHS Trust. [31886]

Jane Kennedy: The Secretary of State for Health has had no discussions recently with any relevant national health service organisation on the future configuration of hospital services in the Hammersmith hospitals NHS trust.

Health and Social Care

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the operation of sections (a) 113 and (b) 114 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003. [28198]

Jane Kennedy: The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 made provision for changes to the national health service and the social services complaints procedures.

The Department is reviewing the operation of both complaints procedures. Any changes will be aimed at improving the patient experience and the service provided by making the systems simpler, faster and more closely integrated. It is important also for both systems to focus on improvement in service delivery by learning from mistakes.
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We recognise that strong links are needed across health and social care and we have already announced the merger of the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Healthcare Commission. This is a key initiative in the drive towards a system which aims to deliver patient and user centred services.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much has been allocated by each strategic health authority to fund the secondment of health care assistants who wish to train as nurses in each year since the scheme began; [22139]

(2) how many health care assistants have been seconded to train as nurses by each NHS Trust in each year since the scheme began; [22140]

(3) what information is collected by her Department on the number of health care assistants who have requested secondments for nursing training and had that request refused; [22141]

(4) what recent discussions she has had on the current scheme for the secondment of health care assistants to nurse training; and if she will make a statement. [22142]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 27 October 2005]: The secondment scheme for health care assistants (HCAs) began in 1998–99. Up to 2003–04, the money for this scheme was routed through the former regional health authorities and regional offices who took local decisions on how much and which education consortia received funding. Therefore, we are only able to provide figures for the number of HCAs seconded in 2003–04, 2004–05 and expenditure for 2003–04, 2004–05 and 2005–06. This is shown in the table.
HCAs who went on to nurse training courses

Number of HCAs
Expenditure on HCAs (£000)
Avon, Gloucs and Wilts3365224,0676,5247,423
Beds and Herts2243112,7163,8814,172
Birmingham and Black Country6558697,93210,86312,083
Cheshire and Merseyside6147747,4359,67212,017
County Durham and Tees Valley1822262,2022,8253,396
Cumbria and Lancashire3875444,6836,7957,239
Devon and Cornwall1742382,1032,9694,212
Dorset and Somerset1902332,9062,9103,304
Greater Manchester6308537,63710,66111,188
Hampshire and Isle of Wight3034433,6695,5375,923
Kent and Medway5862857,0983,5584,778
Leicestershire, Northants and Rutland2983373,6074,2134,422
Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire2813893,4024,8576,344
North and East Yorkshire and North East Lines2243312,7154,1324,804
North Central London4385616,6768,8288,445
North East London4295596,5398,7989,254
North West London4576036,9759,48810,419
Northumberland Tyne and Wear2553303,0864,1204,620
Shropshire and Staffordshire2662924,0523,6544,501
South East London3815065,8127,9698,332
South West London2042603,1114,0994,320
South Yorkshire3524124,2665,1506,160
Surrey and Sussex4425,5186,542
Thames Valley3094023,7395,0284,883
West Midlands South2312932,7943,6594,515
West Yorkshire4545525,5006,8957,989

(25) Planned.

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Officials keep the scheme under regular review and I am satisfied that it has provided significant help in supporting HCAs who wish to become nurses. Indeed, the number of HCAs participating has exceeded our expectations.

In 1998–99, £50 million was allocated to widening access initiatives and the majority was spent on HCA secondments. In 2003–04, the student nurse population was around 63,000 and of these over 6,900 were HCAs. In 2004–05, £164 million was allocated to strategic health authority workforce directorates to fund tuition fees and salary support for HCA's pre-registration training for an increased HCA population of over 9,400 (18 percent. of the population). In 2005–06, the planned spend is around £185 million and the number of HCAs entering pre-registration nurse training is expected to rise to over 13,500 (18 percent. of the student population).

We do not hold centrally the number of applications accepted or rejected by national health service trusts nor the number of NHS trusts who do not offer secondments. The number of HCAs seconded to train as nurses is a matter for local decision and it is for individual employers to decide their policy on offering such secondments.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health addressed the Healthcare Assistants' Conference in July 2005 where she praised the outstanding care that healthcare assistants deliver on a daily basis. She made a commitment to continue to invest and reform the training and development opportunities for all in the NHS.

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