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19 Feb 2007 : Column 54W—continued

Midwives: Manpower

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the number of midwives required to meet the target of every pregnant woman having access to her own designated midwife. [118002]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: There is no national target within the national health service relating to access to a designated midwife.

Local NHS organisations are responsible for the development of maternity services, ensuring that they meet the needs of their local population and that there are sufficient staff, with the right skills, to ensure access to midwives.

The Department is currently assessing the implications of the recently published White Paper “Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services” and the commitment around offering choice, improving access and continuity of care within maternity services.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to reduce the number of hours maternity units close due to vacant posts. [118004]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We have put into place a work programme to support the implementation of the work force elements of the maternity commitment as outlined in the maternity standard of the national service framework for children, young people and maternity services and the White Paper “Our health, our care, our say”. 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.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what factors were taken into account in setting the target of 32 births per year for midwives. [118006]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government have not set a target of 32 births per year for midwives.

The birth to midwife ratio varies throughout the country and is dependant on a range of factors including, the model of care, the care setting and the skill mix of the work force. Local organisations should identify an appropriate ratio based on the needs of their local population. Work force planning tools are in place to support this locally.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what her policy is on the number of visits a pregnant woman should receive from a midwife before a home birth. [118010]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: In October 2003, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published guidance on antenatal care. It recommended that a schedule of antenatal appointments should be determined by the function of the appointments. For women at a low risk of complications, a schedule of seven to 10 appointments should be appropriate. For those women who have particular needs and those have difficulty in accessing services, such as the socially excluded, additional antenatal appointments will be necessary. This will in turn improve the outcomes for both the woman and child.

Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust: Rheumatology

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether rheumatology services in Morecambe Bay Hospitals Trust met the 18 week referral target in the last period for which figures are available. [118020]

Andy Burnham: The information requested is not available.

Voluntary collection and reporting of referral to treatment (RTT) data to support the 18-week target has been under way since autumn 2006. Mandatory national RTT waiting time collection for admitted patients begins this month, and for non-admitted patients in April. Publication will begin as soon as the data are of sufficient quality. For admitted data this is likely to be in the spring; for non-admitted data in the summer.


Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of MRSA were reported at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006. [112382]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The number of reports of meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteraemia recorded at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals National Health Service Trust from April 2004 to September 2006 is shown in the table.

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Reports of MRSA bacteraemia recorded at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust
Time period Number

April to September 2004


October 2004 to March 2005


April to September 2005


October 2005 to March 2006


April to September 2006


Information on MRSA bacteraemia in individual hospitals is not published routinely, as it has only been collected at hospital level since October 2005. Prior to this date numbers of MRSA bacteraemia were recorded six-monthly by NHS acute trust only. The Department and the Health Protection Agency are currently considering the publication of the more detailed data, gained through the enhanced recording system.

The NHS West Midlands strategic health authority reports that the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust is taking a number of measures to reduce MRSA incidence. These include investigating the possibility of setting up isolation wards and potentially introducing a staff testing policy with regard to MRSA. The trust also invited the Department's MRSA team to review their infection control procedures to see what lessons could be learned.

Myasthenia Gravis

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the prevalence of myasthenia gravis; what steps the Government is taking to support those who are diagnosed with the disease; and if she will make a statement. [119167]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I have made no estimate of the prevalence of myasthenia gravis.

Patients with myasthenia gravis are able to access a range of national health service and social care services, which are tailored to meet their individual needs, to help them manage their condition. It is for primary care trusts, in consultation with other stakeholders, to determine which services, including those for people with myasthenia gravis, their local populations require and to ensure the appropriate provision of these services.

The National Service Framework (NSF) for long-term conditions is supporting local sustained improvements in service quality for people with long-term neurological conditions, including myasthenia gravis. The NSF addresses a range of key issues including the need for equitable access to a range of services, good quality information and support for patients and carers, the ability to see a specialist and get the right investigations and diagnosis as quickly as possible.

National Blood Service

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the projected blood needs of the NHS are for the next five years; how much is expected to be received in donations over the next five years; and what funding is planned for the National Blood Service over the next five years. [112551]

Caroline Flint: The National Blood Service (NBS) reviews the demand for blood on a quarterly basis and looks at demand both in the short-term (next two years) and in the medium-term (four to five years).

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For next year, 2007-08, the NBS is working on the planning assumption that annual demand for red blood cells will be 1,855,000 units (which equates to 1,953,000 red cells collected). To put this into context, this year the predicted demand is 1,898,000. These forecasts are currently under review.

Until 2010-11 the NBS is working on three demand figures (high, medium and low). These figures are being used for both financial and operational (capacity) purposes. The table shows demand and collection figures.

2008-09 2009-10 2010-11



























Note: Data provided by the NBS.

The NBS primarily recovers its operating costs for blood by charging national health service trusts and other organisations for the supply of blood components, tissues and other services. These charges reflect the operating costs only, as volunteer donors freely donate all blood and tissues.

National Treatment Agency

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many general practitioners sit on the board of the National Treatment Agency. [113747]

Caroline Flint: The National Treatment Agency currently has one qualified general practitioner sitting on its board.

Neonatal Care

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to include neonatal care in the payment by results tariff. [111007]

Andy Burnham: Most secondary care for neonates is already included in payment by results. However, neonatal intensive care is outside the scope of payment by results and subject to locally agreed arrangements. The range of services covered by payment by results is kept under review.


Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent assessment she has made of the health services provided by Netcare in the UK; [117531]

(2) what recent assessment she has made of (a) Netcare’s experience in delivering healthcare services and (b) Netcare’s procedures for monitoring patients' satisfaction with Netcare’s delivery of healthcare services. [117578]

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Andy Burnham: Private and voluntary health care providers are required to register with, and are inspected by, the Healthcare Commission. Providers are inspected against National Minimum Standards and Regulations for Independent Healthcare issued under the Care Standards Act 2000.

Reports of the Healthcare Commission's inspections of private and voluntary sector providers are published on its website at:

In addition to the Healthcare Commission's regular inspections all independent sector providers that provide services to national health service patients through the Department's independent sector treatment centre (ISTC) programme are required to comply with key performance indicators (KPIs), which are enforceable contractually. KPIs cover a range of clinical and non-clinical processes to ensure proper governance of patient care and the provision of health care. Providers also conduct patient satisfaction surveys of the patients they treat and Netcare’s overall patient satisfaction is currently 97.8 per cent.

As part of the ISTC procurement process bidders are invited to negotiate and meet specific criteria including clinical services, finance, work force, information management and technology, and contract management.

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Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the implications of the proposals to award the clinical assessment, treatment and support contract in Lancashire to Netcare for NHS policy on the use of the independent sector in local health care provision. [117642]

Andy Burnham: Local primary care trusts are responsible for commissioning health services to meet the needs of their population, including the use of the independent sector providers. The six primary care trusts covering Cumbria and Lancashire are currently undertaking public consultation on the proposed clinical assessment, treatment and support (CATS) services for the region.

NHS Confederation: Finance

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding the Government provided to the NHS Confederation in each of the last 10 years. [118919]

Andy Burnham [holding answer 5 February 2007]: The information requested for years 2001-02 to date is recorded in the table as follows. Information before 2001-02 could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

Supplier 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 to 5 February 2007

NHS Confederation







NHS Confederation project company







NHS Confederation trading company







The NHS Confederation trading







NHS Confederation (employers)














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