Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

National Health Service: Cost of Clinical Negligence Claims

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Figures on the amounts included in the National Audit Summarised Accounts for clinical negligence expenditure for the latest available years are as follows:

    1997-98: £144 million

    1998-99: £221 million

    1999-2000: £373 million. Source: National Health Service Summarised accounts for health authorities, NHS trusts and NHS Litigation Authority.

Figures prior to 1996-97 are not available because clinical negligence was not separately identified in the accounts prior to that date. Changes to accounting policies mean that these amounts are not directly comparable.

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans the Secretary of State for Health has to reduce the cost of clinical negligence in the National Health Service in England.[HL313]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We announced on 10 July that we will produce a White Paper, for publication early next year, which will set out our plans for the reform of the system for dealing with clinical negligence claims within the National Health Service.

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Liam Donaldson, will chair a committee to explore a range of potential options for making the system faster and fairer for all concerned. The committee, which will include clinicians and patient representatives, will consult on the proposals with a view to publishing a White Paper setting out the Government's reform programme early next year.

Health Professions Council

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What concerns have been expressed to health Ministers on the need, in fitness to practise cases, for more than one member of the profession involved to be present at the Health Professions Council hearing; what response, if any, they have made; and whether there is any action they will be taking.[HL294]

19 Jul 2001 : Column WA140

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There was strong support in responses to the initial consultation on proposals for a new Health Professions Council, primarily from National Health Service trusts and health authorities but also from professions and some individual practitioners, for a professional majority to hear individual cases.

Responses to the formal consultation on the draft order on the Health Professions Council will be considered carefully and taken into account in the order which Parliament will be asked to approve.

Haemophilia Comprehensive Care Centre

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 3 July (WA 35), when he received the letter dated 7 June from the Haemophilia Comprehensive Care Centre in regard to additional prescribing rights for nurses in haemophilia centres; and when and in what terms they intend to reply.[HL205]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Health replied to the letter from the Haemophilia Comprehensive Care Centre at Great Ormond Street Hospital on 16 July. A copy of his reply has been sent to my noble friend.

Healthcare Provision

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath of 10 July (WA 72), what is their estimate of the period of time that will be required to achieve their ambition "to give our country the quality of healthcare provision that compares favourably with the best in Europe".[HL367]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The NHS Plan sets out a major programme of change, which will give us a National Health Service among the best in Europe. Change on the scale the NHS Plan outlines cannot happen overnight, which is why we have set a 10-year programme of reform. Implementation is progressing well. Increasingly, NHS systems and practices are being refocused on improving quality, and services to patients are improving.

Acute Patient Beds

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many acute patient beds are currently available within National Health Service hospitals and private sector hospitals respectively. [HL310]

19 Jul 2001 : Column WA141

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The latest figures are for the year 1999-00. The average daily number of available acute beds for overnight wards in National Health Service trust for England is 107,218. Figures on the number of acute beds in private hospitals are not available. The total number of registered beds in private hospitals and clinics, England, 31 March 2000 was 10,753. This information is taken from return RH(N) completed by health authorities.

Civil Enforcement Review, Phase 2

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on Phase 2 of the Review of Civil Enforcement.[HL489]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): I am pleased to announce the publication of Towards Effective Enforcement, a Green Paper on the structure and regulation of enforcement and a single piece of bailiff law. It explores options for the regulation of all enforcement agents.

The Paper discusses what legal powers are needed to allow agents to do the job properly and proposes principles for the fees for enforcement and costs of regulation. It also examines the possibilities of improving access to information and making better use of information through clear, precise and limited powers.

The primary purpose of the Green Paper is to consider how best to achieve a fundamental improvement in warrant enforcement by opening up to public consultation a range of options and ideas for the future regulation of enforcement agents in England and Wales. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

A White Paper will be published in early 2002 setting out proposals for legislation in the light of this public consultation. It will also cover revised procedures for attachment of earnings, garnishee orders and charging orders arising from Phase 1 of the review. At that stage it ought to be possible to develop a practical structure for warrant enforcement service delivery.

Research Councils: Quinquennial Review

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the outcome of the first stage of the quinquennial review of the six grant-awarding Research Councils will be announced; and what are its principal recommendations.[HL495]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): I am today able to announce the outcome of the first stage of the quinquennial review of the six grant-awarding Research Councils. I shall be placing a copy of the stage 1 report in the Libraries of both Houses.

19 Jul 2001 : Column WA142

Quinquennial reviews of Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) are a key part of our programme to modernise government. The Government are committed to achieving better public services that are of higher quality and are more responsive to the needs of the people who use them. Regular NDPB reviews are an important element in ensuring that we have in place the right structures to deliver the Government's agenda effectively and to provide a strong focus on improving future performance. Under Cabinet Office guidance (31 January 2000), such reviews should be conducted in two stages.

The terms of reference for this review set the following objectives:

    the first stage would examine the role and organisation of the Research Councils, by reference to their charters and missions, and evidence of past practice. It would set the detailed terms of reference for the second stage;

    the second stage would examine the efficiency and effectiveness of the councils' operations and look for further opportunities for improving performance.

The principal recommendation of stage 1 is that the Research Councils should continue to be executive NDPBs. The review concluded that:

    the councils are a necessary mechanism for the delivery of government policy for scientific research and postgraduate training;

    the councils, individually and collectively, are an important source of independent scientific advice to government;

    the councils' existing individual missions provide an effective focus for their communities;

    none of the alternative organisational models would offer equivalent benefits to the UK science and engineering base at the present time;

    the councils have made considerable progress in adopting new ways of working to generate efficiency savings, demonstrate value for money and maximise spending on science;

    NDPB status remains the most appropriate organisational model for maintaining the Haldane principle, ensuring effective accountability for public funds and engaging the scientific communities.

Stage 2 of the Review will now examine four broad themes which were identified following the extensive stage 1 consultation. These are: mission, structure and governance; relations between the Research Councils and their clients; priority-setting and decision-making; the councils' management and internal processes. Working groups, whose members will include a wide range of stakeholders, will be considering these areas, and there has also been a second written consultation.

I welcome these recommendations, and I am grateful to the members of the steering group for their work on this review.

19 Jul 2001 : Column WA143

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page