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4 May 2006 : Column 1780W—continued

NHS Direct

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 10 March 2006, Official Report, column 1824W, on NHS Direct, if she will make a statement on the growth in the cost of NHS Direct. [66722]

Mr. Byrne: Since its inception in 1998, NHS Direct has grown from small-scale pilot sites to a substantial national service. The increased funding reflects the increased popularity of the service and the wider range of services provided. For example, the NHS Direct telephone service, launched in 1998, and nationally available from 2000, is now complemented by the NHS Direct Online website (1999) and the NHS Direct Interactive digital TV service (2004). This multi-channel service now handles around 2 million patient contacts each month compared to around 9,000 per month in 1998–99.
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In addition to the nationally directed service, NHS Direct now provides primary care trusts with a range of telephone-based solutions to support the delivery of their service objectives, including out of hours and unscheduled care; long-term care; outpatient services; and health information and access to local services.

NHS Pension Scheme

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the employer contribution rates to the NHS pension scheme are; what assumed rate of return underlies those contribution rates; and what the contribution rate would be if the assumed rate of return were in line with current redemption yield on index-linked gilts. [61397]

Mr. Byrne: Current employer contribution rates to the national health service pension scheme are 14 per cent. of pensionable payroll, and the last actuarial valuation on which this recommendation was based assumed a rate of return of 3.5 per cent. The information on the impact of different actuarial and accounting assumptions can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
4 May 2006 : Column 1782W

NHS Recruitment

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthif she will place a duty on NHS bodies not to discriminate in their recruitment practices against applicants who have previously acted as whistle-blowers within the NHS. [51906]

Mr. Byrne: Recruitment of staff in the national health service is a local matter. NHS employers are expected to have fair and transparent recruitment processes in place which comply with relevant legislation.

The Department issued updated guidance in 2003 to support the development and remedy of whistle-blowing policies in the workplace.

Overseas Doctors

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what percentage of doctors, who are non-European Economic Area citizens work in the NHS; and if she will make a statement. [67007]

Mr. Byrne: The number of doctors employed in the national health service who qualified in non-European Economic Area countries is shown in the following table. No information is collected relating to the country of origin of NHS staff.
General and personal medical services and hospital community health services (HCHS): All doctors(13)(5509150014)(15) by specified country of primary qualification group, England as at 30 September 2005
Number (headcount) and percentages

All countries of qualificationAll EEA countriesEEA countries (percentage)All non-EEA countriesNon-EEA countries (percentage)
All doctors119,01786,05772.332,96027.7
All HCHS medical staff(14)(15)83,07355,76267.127,31132.9
All GPs(13)35,94430,29584.35,64915.7
Of which:
GPs (excluding retainers and registrars)32,73827,99085.54,74814.5
GP registrars2,5641,68465.788034.3

(13)Practitioners includes contracted GPs, QMS Others, PMS Others, GP registrars and GP retainers
(14)Excludes medical hospital practitioners and medical clinical assistants, most of whom are GPs working part time in hospitals
(15)Excludes ail dental staff. Information about country of qualification is derived from the General Medical Council. For staff in dental specialties, with a General Dental Council registration, the country of qualification is therefore unknown.
The Information Centre for health and social care medical and dental workforce census. The Information Centre for health and social care general & personal medical services Statistics


Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the number of pharmacists who are being held liable by an oxygen supplier for the loss or damage of oxygen cylinders. [67883]

Jane Kennedy: The supply of oxygen cylinders to pharmacies is a matter for agreement between the pharmacy and the oxygen supplier concerned. The Department does not hold information on these business arrangements and therefore cannot provide an estimate of the number of pharmacists held liable for loss or damage to cylinders.

Primary Care Trusts

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the revenue allocation per head of population is for each primary care trust in (a) 2007–08 and (b) 2006–07; and what the out-turn figures were in (i)2004–05 and (ii) 2005–06. [64853]

Mr. Byrne: Information showing the revenue allocation per head of population for each primary care trust in 2007–08 and 2006–07 has been placed in the Library.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) on 10 March 2006, Official Report, column 1828W, in respect of 2004–05 expenditure per head. Expenditure per head figures for 2005–06 will be available in the autumn.

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the expected final outturn position is of Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust for the 2006–07 financial year. [68154]

4 May 2006 : Column 1783W

Ms Rosie Winterton: The financial plans for 2006–07 have not yet been finalised.

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health from which (a) frontline staff and (b) support staff posts Milton Keynes Primary Trust is considering removing funding. [68155]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Funding is allocated directly to primary care trust (PCTs). It is for PCTs in partnership with strategic health authorities and other local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities and modernising services.

Sexual Health

Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures her Department is implementing to encourage women aged between 16 and 24 to practise safer sex. [66486]

Caroline Flint: Our current plans are to aim to launch the next sexual health campaign later this year. This will target 16 to 34-year-old men and women but with a concentration on the key 16 to 24 year age bracket. The campaign will focus on the risks of unprotected sex and the benefits of using condoms to avoid sexually transmitted infections including HIV and unintended pregnancies.

Also, the national chlamydia screening programme provides opportunistic screening for genital chlamydia infection and is offered to all sexually active women and men aged between 16 and 24 years old attending a variety of health and non health care settings in England. Every young person who accepts a chlamydia test is given an information leaflet which explains that using condoms every time they have sex can reduce the risks of getting or passing on chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

This programme is linked to the implementation of the teenage pregnancy strategy, led by Department for Education and Skills, which seeks to both encourage young people to delay early sex and to improve their access to sexual health advice and services when they do become sexually active.

The teenage pregnancy strategy is achieved through a national media campaign; improved delivery of sex and relationships education in schools, and by making services more young people friendly and delivered closer to the point of need—in schools, further education colleges and other youth settings. Since the start of the strategy, the under-18 conception rate has fallen by 11.1 per cent., to its lowest level since the mid-1980s.

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