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Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government Actuarys 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.
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; 
(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. 
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. 
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.
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.
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 Departments 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 childs development. We do not collect statistics on the incidence of plagiocephaly centrally.
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.
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.
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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. 
Andy Burnham: Guidance on the disposal of surplus national health service land and buildings is provided in the Department's publication Estatecodeessential 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 organisations 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 SHAs 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.
When the selling organisation is an NHS foundation trust, the ability to dispose of assets is covered by the Protection of AssetsGuidance 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.
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. 
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.
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. 
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. 
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|
|Northumberland, Tyne and Wear SHA, number of new episodes of selected diagnoses 2001-04|
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:
ChlamydiaUncomplicated genital chlamydial infection, KC60 code C4a,C4c
GonorrhoeaUncomplicated gonorrhoea, KC60 code, B1,B2
Syphilis Primary and secondary infectious syphilis, KC60 code A1,A2
HerpesAnogenital herpes (first attack), KC60 code Cl0a
WartsAnogenital warts (first attack), KC60 code Clla
Total diagnosesAll diagnoses made, includes all A, B, C and E KC60 codes
Total workloadAll workload not requiring a diagnosis, includes all D, P and S KC60 codes
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