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Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has for representatives of her Department to meet representatives of the Independent Midwives Association to discuss the future of professional indemnity insurance for the profession. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Chief Nursing Officer is holding a further meeting with representatives from the independent midwife community, including the Independent Midwives Association (IMA), on 21 May to update them on the progress in exploring different options available. My noble Friend the Minister of State, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, has also agreed to meet with representatives from the IMA in the future.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the Royal College of Midwives' estimates of the number of full-time equivalent midwives required to ensure that the proposals in Maternity Matters can be implemented; and whether she has made her own estimate; 
(2) what estimate she has made of the full-time equivalent number of (a) fully qualified midwives and (b) maternity care attendants needed in the (i) acute and (ii) community sector to enable the guarantees made in Maternity Matters to be implemented; 
(3) what assessment she has made of the (a) overall capacity of maternity services, (b) qualified midwife staffing ratios on acute wards, (c) caseloads of community midwives and (d) availability of safety and monitoring equipment before the publication of Maternity Matters; 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The 2007-08 NHS operating framework requires local national health service organisations to undertake a review of their maternity services, identify the gaps and barriers to service development and set out their local strategy for delivery of Maternity Matters. The review needs to include an assessment of their work force capacity.
Some NHS organisations may identify the need to invest in their services and resources to enable them to adapt and enhance services and some may increase their work force capacity. Strategies will need to identify the appropriate staffing ratio, skill mix and caseloads based on the needs of the local population. It is important that these decisions are made locally as they know their local needs best and can ensure that services are developed to meet these needs.
Maternity Matters highlights the need to engage with all stakeholders throughout local implementation and this will be supported by national engagement with representatives from a range of stakeholders, including the Royal College of Midwives.
Andy Burnham [holding answer 16 May 2007]: The founding values of the national health service are secure with this Government. The Government continue to develop the vision and policies for an NHS that is fit for the challenges of a new century. In this context, an NHS constitution could provide a clear expression of what is unchanging about the values of the NHS. It would set down and protect the values of what is a precious and unique institution, at the same time as the NHS itself is reforming and improving. The Government are currently exploring the idea of a constitution for the NHS, on which it could then consult. If successful, this work and consultation could lead to the adoption of a new constitution for the NHS in 2008, its 60th anniversary year, setting out a direction for the next decade.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what she expects the estimated change in costs to the NHS to be of implementing the new consultants' contract in each of the years to 2011-12. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The new consultant contract was implemented over three years from 2003-04 to 2005-06. Around 90 per cent. of consultants are now on the new contract, and all new appointments will be to the new contract. The funding invested included a recurrent addition of £250 million to meet the additional costs of consultant pay that are a consequence of having implemented the new contract.
Ms Rosie Winterton: The average number of working days lost per person in the Department in 2006 because of sickness and injury was 8.7. This is a provisional figure and covers the core Department only.
Andy Burnham: The Government have already introduced significant independence into decision-making in the national health service, reducing Whitehall control over decisions that are better taken at regional and local level.
The Government's reforms are devolving decision-making and giving people more choice and more say, so that the NHS responds to the wishes of the public. Foundation trusts are free from day-to-day Whitehall control, allowing them to innovate and improve clinical care for the benefit of patients. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence gives independent advice to the NHS on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of different drugs and treatments that should be available across the NHS. The independent Healthcare Commission assesses healthcare providers against a set of national quality standards, and publishes independent assessments of how well hospitals are doing at providing safe and effective care.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what were the reasons given for the resignation of (a) Professor Alan Crockard as National Director for Modernising Medical Careers and (b) his deputy Professor Shelley Heard. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent consideration she has given to
the merits of increasing the number of training posts in the national health service. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The number of training posts agreed for 2007 was announced in December 2006 following extensive local negotiations between strategic health authorities, postgraduate deaneries and national health service trusts to establish the appropriate numbers required to meet service and training needs. The former Minister of State Lord Warner committed the Government to at least 18,000 additional training posts in England.
revise the list of medical exemptions to prescription charges;
introduce a flat rate prescription charge with no exemptions; and
base exemption to prescription charges solely on income.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what local targets referred to in the operating framework for 2007-08, gateway reference 7408, published on 11 December 2006, have so far been agreed between primary care trusts and providers. 
Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to ensure that clinical professionals other than general practitioners receive appropriate training to carry out semi-specialist services at a primary care level; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department is not responsible for setting curricula for health professional training; that is rightly the responsibility of the statutory and professional bodies. However, we do share a commitment with those bodies that all health professionals are trained so that they have the skills and knowledge to deliver a high-quality health service to all groups of the population with whom they deal.
Post-registration training needs for national health service staff are decided against local national health service priorities, through appraisal processes and training needs analyses informed by local delivery plans and the needs of the service.
Access to training is affected by a number of factors such as the availability of funding, whether staff can be released and the availability of appropriate training interventions, mentors and assessors. It would not be practical for the centre to be prescriptive on this.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 6 February 2007, Official Report, columns 809-10W, on recruitment, what plans her Department has to collect further data from strategic health authorities relating to the employment position of graduates at later dates than 30 November 2006. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The current data collection on graduates focuses on those who graduated in September 2006. It is the Departments intention that further data on those who graduated in February 2007 will be collected.
The time scale for this, along with other aspects of the collection such as its frequency and format, is still being discussed with strategic health authorities. The Department remains committed to reducing the burden of data collection on the national health service, and we are exploring the use of data from the talent pools and NHS Employers.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people were prescribed Ritalin in (a) England, (b) the North East and (c) the area corresponding as closely as possible to Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in each of the last seven years, broken down by age. 
Caroline Flint: Ritalin is one brand of the drug methylphenidate hydrochloride. The Department does not hold data on the number of patients prescribed methylphenidate hydrochloride drugs but the table shows the number of prescription items dispensed in the community for the areas requested.
|Prescription items for methylphenidate hydrochloride|
| Notes: Primary care trusts were reorganised with effect from 1 October.|
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