Previous Section Index Home Page

7 Jun 2006 : Column 718W—continued

NHS Pension Scheme

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the liabilities of the NHS pension scheme are. [71605]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government Actuary’s Department has valued the total liabilities of the NHS pension scheme as at 31 March 2005 to be £127.9 billion. They are in the process of preparing a detailed actuarial valuation of the scheme as at 31 March 2004 which will be published later this year and will include analysis of the factors leading to any change in valuation.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans there are for (a) negotiations on and (b) changes to the NHS pension scheme. [71607]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Negotiations are continuing between NHS employers, on behalf of the Department, and the NHS staff side on proposals for a new national health service pension scheme. Proposals will be announced for consultation on the completion of these negotiations.


Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what (a) support and (b) employment advice her Department provides for those successfully completing pre-registration nursing courses but who fail to find a nursing position within the NHS; and if she will make a statement; [75153]

7 Jun 2006 : Column 719W

(2) pursuant to the answer of 22 May 2006, Official Report, column 1585W, on pre-registration nursing courses, what assessment has been made by her Department of the employment prospects of those enrolled on pre-registration nursing courses; and if she will make a statement. [75504]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The national health service will continue to need new nurses to replace those that retire or take career breaks. However, there is now a much closer match between the demand and supply of health care workers and there is more competition for posts. It is a joint responsibility between higher education institutions and local NHS organisations to see that nursing and other health care graduates are supported to find employment. Vacancies for graduates continue to be posted on NHS Jobs and the NHS careers information service can direct graduates to appropriate sources of information and advice. Graduates are encouraged to be flexible when applying for posts.

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate her Department has made of (a) NHS nursing vacancies and (b) expected nursing vacancies over the next 12 months (i) in total and (ii) in each strategic health authority; and if she will make a statement. [75150]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 5 June 2006]: In March 2005, 5,801 had not been filled within three months for qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staffing in England. The results of the March 2006 vacancy survey are due to be published in July.

It is the responsibility of local national health service organisations to estimate the likely vacancies over the next 12 months.

Parapox Virus

David Mundell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research she has evaluated on the possible risk to human health of the parapox virus carried by grey squirrels. [73176]

Caroline Flint: In the absence of reports of human disease due to parapox virus, the Department has not evaluated any research on risk to human health. Both the Department and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) keep a close watch on incidents of parapox infection in squirrels. The human and animal infection risks surveillance group, which includes membership from the Department, DEFRA, the Health Protection Agency and the Food Standards Agency, meets on a regular basis to assess risk to public health and has considered the potential for this infection to spread to people.


John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent representations she has received on the treatment of plagiocephaly; [73756]

7 Jun 2006 : Column 720W

(2) how many children have been treated for plagiocephaly on the NHS with the STARband helmet in the last 12 months; [73757]

(3) what progress has been made in raising awareness of the condition of plagiocephaly among (a) health practitioners and (b) parents; [73758]

(4) what the incidence of plagiocephaly is in England. [73759]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Departmental Ministers have received 19 letters from Members of Parliament, nine letters and five emails from members of the public, and a large petition about plagiocephaly in the past 12 months. It is for doctors working in national health service trusts to decide how and whether to treat children with positional plagiocephaly. We do not collect information centrally on how they do so. Health visitors and general practitioners are trained to recognise deformities in babies, including plagiocephaly. We have not tried to raise awareness of parents about plagiocephaly but we give advice in “Birth to Five” which is available on the Department’s website at:

This suggests that babies should experience a range of positions. If followed, this advice would not only help prevent plagiocephaly, but also enhance a child’s development. We do not collect statistics on the incidence of plagiocephaly centrally.

Primary Care Trusts

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health who will appoint the chief executives of the new primary care trusts; and if she will make a statement. [71825]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The process for appointing primary care trust chief executives is covered by the Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS Human Resources Framework for strategic health authorities and PCTs published in December 2005. It states that the appointment process for PCT chief executives will be managed in regional clusters by the new SHA chief executives. Appointment panels for PCT chief executives will be chaired by the new PCT chair (or interim PCT chair, or SHA chair if the new PCT chair has not been appointed), and will also include the SHA chief executive, the new professional executive committee (PEC) chair (or other senior clinician if the new PEC chair has not been appointed), and an independent assessor.

The Human Resources Framework and supplementary guidance, “Primary Care Trusts: Chief Executive Posts is available on the Department's website at:

Purchase of Publications

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health why funding for the purchase copies of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin for NHS clinicians has ceased. [75505]

7 Jun 2006 : Column 721W

Andy Burnham: This decision was informed by our policy to devolve as much responsibility as possible to the national health service and to look very critically at central spending. It is our policy that central spending should be kept to an absolute minimum in order to maximise the resources available for the NHS to manage at local level. The decision also took account of the availability of other sources of medicines information.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the annual cost to the NHS has been of purchasing copies of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin in each of the last five years. [75507]

Andy Burnham: The annual cost of the Department’s central contract to purchase copies of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin for each of the last five years is as follows:

Financial year Cost (£ million)











Redundant NHS Sites

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what regulations cover the selling of redundant NHS sites; whether monies raised in Gloucestershire from such sales will be spent in the county; and if she will make a statement. [74269]

Andy Burnham: Guidance on the disposal of surplus national health service land and buildings is provided in the Department's publication “Estatecode—essential guidance on estates and facilities management”.

NHS trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) have delegated limits for capital investment. Within these limits, they may make capital investment decisions without seeking approval from their strategic health authority (SHA) or from the Department. These limits vary between £1 million and £10 million, depending on the organisation’s turnover from provider activities and its most recent performance rating.

Sales of fixed assets such as land and buildings are dealt with in the same way. Within its delegated limit, an NHS trust or PCT can sell assets and reinvest the proceeds without the approval of its SHA. Above the delegated limit, these trusts must seek their SHA’s approval both for the sale and to reinvest the proceeds. In many instances, SHAs will approve the reinvestment of the sale proceeds by the selling trust or PCT but the SHA retains the discretion to specify another use.

The SHA with responsibility for health services in Gloucestershire is the Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire SHA. Within this wide geographical remit, there are circumstances where the SHA might consider that there is a health-investment need to use capital proceeds from one county in the other counties that it covers.

7 Jun 2006 : Column 722W

When the selling organisation is an NHS foundation trust, the ability to dispose of assets is covered by the “Protection of Assets—Guidance for NHSFTs” published by Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts. Income from the sale of its assets accrues to the NHS foundation trust.

Residential Homes

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidelines her Department issues to (a) local authorities and (b) primary care trusts on assessments to establish whether patients require nursing care in residential homes. [73832]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: “Continuing care: NHS and local councils’ responsibilities” makes it clear that the national health service is responsible for arranging and funding community health service in care homes. In order for people in residential homes to access these services, they must be registered with a general practitioner.

When assessing the nursing care needs of older people in all settings local authorities and the NHS are required to implement the single assessment process, as set out in “Guidance on the Single Assessment Process for Older People”. This ensures a person centred approach to assessment and care planning for older people regardless of both organisational boundaries and the health conditions and circumstances of older people.

Seasonal Influenza

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2006, Official Report, column 763W, on influenza, if she will make a statement on the progress of the review on the seasonal influenza vaccination programme; and whether she expects to publish the review findings before general practitioners order their stocks of influenza vaccine for the winter of 2006-07. [73871]

Caroline Flint: Independent assessors have been appointed and are carrying out the review.

Once complete, the reviewers will submit their findings to the Secretary of State for Health. The recommendations will be given careful consideration and the reviewers report will be made available.

General practitioners are already ordering their stocks, and any recommendations from the review will be considered for the 2007 seasonal influenza immunisation programme.

Sexual Health

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of each main category of sexually transmitted disease there were in each primary care trust area in the North East in each year since 2001; and what the rate was of each disease in each area in each year. [75249]

7 Jun 2006 : Column 723W

Caroline Flint: Data are not available in the format requested. Statistics of sexually transmitted infections are collected by the Health Protection Agency and are available at national, regional and strategic health authority (SHA) level which is shown in the tables relating to County Durham and Tees Valley SHA and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear SHA.

County Durham and Tees Valley SHA ,number of new episodes of selected diagnoses 2001-04
2001 2002 2003 2004


























Total diagnoses





Total workload





Northumberland, Tyne and Wear SHA, number of new episodes of selected diagnoses 2001-04
2001 2002 2003 2004


























Total diagnoses





Total workload





Numbers of diagnoses were not adjusted for missing clinic data.
The increased workload in 2003 could be partly due to changes in the reporting system (the addition of S codes)
Definitions of selected conditions:
Chlamydia—Uncomplicated genital chlamydial infection, KC60 code C4a,C4c
Gonorrhoea—Uncomplicated gonorrhoea, KC60 code, B1,B2
Syphilis— Primary and secondary infectious syphilis, KC60 code A1,A2
Herpes—Anogenital herpes (first attack), KC60 code Cl0a
Warts—Anogenital warts (first attack), KC60 code Clla
Total diagnoses—All diagnoses made, includes all A, B, C and E KC60 codes
Total workload—All workload not requiring a diagnosis, includes all D, P and S KC60 codes

Next Section Index Home Page