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13 Jun 2006 : Column 1165W—continued

Midwifery

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent studies she has carried out into independent midwife-led birth units, with particular reference to care for mothers with learning disabilities; [75991]

(2) what research she has evaluated on the effects of a normal birth with minimal interventions on the incidence of post-natal depression; and what recent assessment she has made of the comparative rates of normal births in different settings; [76075]

(3) what opportunities there are to increase choice in maternity provision, with particular reference to midwife-led units in acute hospital settings; [76076]

(4) what recent studies she has carried out into the impact on (a) ante-natal and (b) post natal care of closing independent midwife units; [76078]

(5) what support the National Service Framework offers midwife-led maternity units; [76080]

(6) what research the Department (a) is undertaking and (b) has commissioned into (i) the effects of maternity provision being placed in the community and (ii) the merits of midwife-led units outside district general hospitals. [76082]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department has not carried out studies that cover birth settings or their effectiveness on specific client groups or the impact of their closure on antenatal and postnatal care. However, in a survey of patients conducted on behalf of the Department(1), asking for a preference as to where the next delivery would take
13 Jun 2006 : Column 1166W
place, 36.9 per cent. wanted to give birth outside a hospital setting (home—13.1 per cent., midwife unit—20.4 per cent., general practitioner unit—3.4 per cent.).

Through the service delivery and organisation research and development programme, the Department has commissioned a three-year study, ‘An Evaluation of Maternity Units in England’, about the effectiveness, acceptability and efficiency of maternity units. We expect to be able to make an announcement about the award of the contract shortly.

The maternity standard of the national service framework for children, young people and maternity services is quite clear that maternity services should be designed, reviewed and improved through a programme of consultation with users and that the full range of choices of types of birth, antenatal and postnatal care, and birth environment should be offered. It also advocates that local options for midwife-led care will include midwife-led units in the community. Ultimately, it is for local health communities to decide on the best pattern of service provision, taking into account the needs of local people, evidence of effectiveness and available resources.

We have made commitments in the 2005 manifesto and in the White Paper ‘Our Health, Our Care, Our Say’ which was published in January 2006, to offer all women a choice over where and how they have their baby, including in hospital, a midwifery-led unit and at home—this will be in place by 2009.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to the answer of 18 May 2006 to the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Janet Anderson), Official Report, column 1173W, on midwives, if she will publish the results of the assessment on its completion; [74749]

(2) what estimate she has made of the minimum number of midwives needed in England to enable all women a choice as to where and how to have their baby, broken down by (a) strategic health authority and (b) primary care trust; and if she will make a statement. [74768]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: A maternity services outline delivery plan is being developed, which will set out a single vision for choice in maternity services, identify risks and management strategies and also set out the strategy for delivery including performance management arrangements, governance structures nationally, stakeholder engagement and the communication plan to support delivery. This is due to be published in autumn 2006.

Local national health service organisations are responsible for developing maternity services in response to the needs of their local population, and for ensuring that they have sufficient staff, with the right skills, to offer appropriate choices.


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Milk Tokens

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many milk tokens were issued (a) to pregnant women and (b) to mothers for children in each month from January 2005. [72885]

Caroline Flint: The volume of milk tokens issued since January 2005 is summarised in the following table. These numbers do not include Healthy Start vouchers issued in Devon and Cornwall since the introduction of Healthy Start in November 2005.

Milk tokens volumes since January 2005
Pregnant only( 1) Pregnant + child/children( 2) Child/children only Total

January 2005

16,350

10,323

693,682

720,355

February 2005

15,392

10,331

698,243

723,966

March 2005

14,739

9,672

700,975

725,386

April 2005

14,076

8,735

700,566

723,377

May 2005

13,626

7,607

701,949

723,182

June 2005

14,255

6,715

705,254

726,224

July 2005(3)

13,932

5,557

702,782

722,271

July 2005(3)

13,947

4,688

701,271

719,906

August 2005

14,258

4,334

701,524

720,116

September 2005

14,900

4,734

701,664

721,298

October 2005

15,883

5,446

704,854

726,183

November 2005

16,145

5,740

687,289

709,174

December 2005

16,435

5,960

684,736

707,131

January 2006

15,853

5,968

690,624

712,445

February 2006

16,271

6,325

695,404

718,000

March 2006

16,967

6,767

696,628

720,362

April 2006

17,475

7,155

700,584

725,214

May 2006

18,120

7,426

700,299

725,845

(1) Pregnant only—pregnant women who are eligible for milk tokens.
(2) Pregnant + child/children—pregnant women who have one or more children for whom they receive milk tokens.
(3) Milk tokens are issued on a four-week cycle where the month of July has had two cycles.

Ministerial Visits

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many official visits to hospitals (a) she has and (b) her ministerial team have made during the night since 1 May 2005. [69948]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health carried out night visits to Ipswich Hospital on 31 May 2005 and to the Greater Manchester Ambulance Service on 3 April 2006. Former Minister of State for Health (Jane Kennedy) visited North East Ambulance Service on the night of 14 September 2005. Lord Warner visited London Ambulance Service and Kings College Hospital on the night of 22 November 2005.

NHS Data

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what duty is placed on primary care trusts to ensure
13 Jun 2006 : Column 1168W
that data submitted to the website www.nhs.uk regarding (a) dentists accepting NHS patients and (b) other information are kept up to date; how often these data are updated; and whether NHS Direct actively monitors these data to ensure their accuracy. [64183]

Ms Rosie Winterton: It is for primary care trusts (PCTs) to decide how most effectively to provide information to the public and to agree any local arrangements with nhs.uk and NHS Direct.

NHS Direct holds some information on the open and closed status of dental practices but the accuracy of the information is dependent on dentists notifying PCTs of any changes, and PCTs updating the information on nhs.uk.

As a result of feedback from user groups, and following the introduction of the local commissioning of national health service dentistry in April 2006, the information held by nhs.uk (and by extension NHS Direct, as they use the same database) is currently being updated by PCT web editors. Additional information, including best possible information on how patients can get routine, urgent in-hours and urgent out-of-hours care or advice is being added by PCTs to the new format site. The expected date for these changes to go live on nhs.uk is the last week of June 2006.

NHS Direct

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how NHS Direct as an NHS Foundation Trust would be accountable to local communities; [76698]

(2) whether NHS Direct as an NHS Foundation Trust would remain subject to ministerial control; [76699]

(3) whether NHS Direct as an NHS Foundation Trust would be able to outsource its call centres abroad. [76700]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We are developing plans for NHS Direct to become a national health service trust from April 2007 with the aim of becoming an NHS Foundation Trust (NHSFT) thereafter. NHS Direct is in the very early stages of considering its application for foundation trust status, including appropriate ways to ensure it can demonstrate that it is accountable to local communities, as other foundation trusts have done.

Legislative provisions establish NHSFTs as independent public benefit corporations, free from Secretary of State powers of direction.

As a NHSFT, NHS Direct will continue to plan delivery of its services in the most effective way. There are no plans to transfer its services abroad.

NHS Staff

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the net change has been in the numbers of (a) doctors, (b) nurses, (c) midwives, (d) physiotherapists and (e) cleaners in each London strategic health authority area since 1996; and if she will make a statement. [75693]


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Mr. Ivan Lewis: The net change in the numbers of doctors, nurses, midwives, and physiotherapists in each London strategic health authority (SHA) area since 1996 is shown in the following tables.


13 Jun 2006 : Column 1170W

The Department does not collect separate data for the number of cleaners. These are included in the figures for hotel, property and estates support staff.

Specified national health service staff in the London Government office region (GOR) by SHA area as at 30 September each specified year: Doctors
Headcount and percentage headcount
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

London GOR total

All doctors

16,699

17,107

17,374

17,846

18,557

19,048

Hospital and community staff (HCHS)

12,177

12,575

12,859

13,350

14,009

14,503

General medical practitioners (excluding retainers)(2)

4,522

4,532

4,515

4,496

4,548

4,545

North West London

Q04

All doctors

4,147

4,422

4,209

4,273

4,694

4,730

HCHS doctors(1)

3,010

3,213

3,021

3,139

3,569

3,580

General medical practitioners (excluding retainers)(2)

1,137

1,209

1,188

1,134

1,125

1,150

North Central London

Q05

All doctors

3,612

3,680

3,754

3,866

3,933

3,935

HCHS doctors(1)

2,796

2,892

2,952

3,080

3,114

3,131

General medical practitioners (excluding retainers)(2)

816

788

802

786

819

804

North East London

Q06

All doctors

2,762

2,801

2,923

3,019

3,101

3,281

HCHS doctors(1)

1,878

1,913

2,027

2,125

2,176

2,382

General medical practitioners (excluding retainers)(2)

884

888

896

894

925

899

South East London

Q07

All doctors

3,552

3,663

3,904

3,838

3,925

4,279

HCHS doctors(1)

2,666

2,795

3,042

2,937

3,039

3,375

General medical practitioners (excluding retainers)(2)

886

868

862

901

886

904

South West London

Q08

2,625

2,541

2,584

2,850

2,904

2,823

HCHS doctors(1)

1,827

1,762

1,817

2,069

2,111

2,035

General medical practitioners (excluding retainers)(2)

798

779

767

781

793

788


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