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18 May 2007 : Column 1018W—continued

18 May 2007 : Column 1019W

Midwives: Insurance

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. [137750]

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 King’s Heath, has also agreed to meet with representatives from the IMA in the future.

Midwives: Manpower

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; [136500]

(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; [136501]

(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; [136502]

(4) what factors were taken into account by her Department in estimating the appropriate caseload of community midwives to enable the guarantees in Maternity Matters to be implemented; [136504]

(5) what estimate she has made of the additional (a) staff and (b) facilities which will be needed to implement the Maternity Matters proposals. [136506]

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.

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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.


Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of STERIS vaporised hydrogen peroxide technology in tackling MRSA within the NHS. [136298]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 3 May 2007, Official Report, column 1843W.

NHS: Constitutions

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to establish a constitution for the NHS. [137041]

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.

NHS: Consultants

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. [135771]

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.

NHS: Lost Working Days

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many working days were lost (a) in her Department and (b) in the NHS owing to sickness and injury in 2006. [126076]

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.

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The average number of working days lost per person in the national health service in 2005 because of sickness and injury is estimated to be 9.9. Information for 2006 is not yet available.

NHS: Management

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the merits of an independent board for the NHS. [134155]

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.

The Government keep under review the way the Department and the NHS work together.

NHS: Public Appointments

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many appointments the Appointments Commission made in each year since its creation; [135968]

(2) how many appointees chosen by the Appointments Commission in each year since its creation (a) had served and (b) were serving in another appointed capacity. [135969]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have asked the Chair of the Commission to write to the hon. Member with the information on numbers of appointments.

NHS: Resignations

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. [135744]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The resignation letters were private letters to Sir Liam Donaldson and therefore it is not appropriate for the Department to divulge their contents.

NHS: Training

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent consideration she has given to
18 May 2007 : Column 1022W
the merits of increasing the number of training posts in the national health service. [135898]

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.

The review group is exploring the possibilities for creating further training opportunities where these can support local workforce requirements. This work is currently ongoing.

Parkinson's Disease: Prescriptions

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will review the effect of charges for prescriptions for sufferers of Parkinson's disease. [134314]

Caroline Flint: We are currently undertaking a review of prescription charges and will be reporting the outcome before the summer recess. This review will include options to:

These options will be considered on the basis that any changes to prescription charge exemptions, if implemented, are cost-neutral for the national health service.

Primary Care Trusts: Standards

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. [135876]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: This information is not held centrally.

Primary Health Care

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. [122830]

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.

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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. [135823]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The current data collection on graduates focuses on those who graduated in September 2006. It is the Department’s 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. [134770]

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.

Estimated figures are based on a sample of one in 20 prescriptions and have been grossed up to reflect the population totals and rounded.

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Prescription items for methylphenidate hydrochloride
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006


Prescription item dispensed








Estimated number of items dispensed to children








Estimated number of items dispensed to the elderly








North East England

Prescription items prescribed in North East England








Primary care trust (PCT)

Prescription items prescribed in Langbaurgh PCT (to end September 2006)








Prescription items prescribed in Redcar and Cleveland PCT (from 1 October 2006)


Prescription items prescribed in Middlesbrough PCT (to end September 2006)








Prescription items prescribed in Middlesbrough PCT (from 1 October 2006)


Notes: Primary care trusts were reorganised with effect from 1 October.

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