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Parkside NHS Trust

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what investigation his Department has made into the risk of violence to health visitors in Parkside NHS trust as a result of implementing trust policy with regard to the use of the health visitor assessment tool; [6966]

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Ms Blears: A health needs assessment tool (HNAT) was developed by Parkside Health national health service trust for use by health visitors to assist in the prioritisation of workload. An initial stage of development included focus groups that included both health visitors and their clients, prior to its piloting with 452 clients.

The HNAT does not require the recording of a client's name and address; instead it uses a master patient index number to link information gathered using this tool with the client's case notes, with which it is retained. No information from the HNAT is entered on Parkside Health NHS trust's electronic Community Information System. For a five-month period, a paper-based report which included master patient index numbers was compiled for monitoring purposes. In April 2000 this practice was identified locally as a potential breach of patient confidentiality and was discontinued immediately, and all documentation destroyed. All NHS trusts have been issued guidance relating to patient confidentiality and to the Data Protection Act 1998 and in upholding the Act are accountable to the Data Protection Registrar.

Parkside Health NHS trust commissioned an independent evaluation of the HNAT from Professor Sarah Cowley of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King's College, London. Professor Cowley presented her findings to the trust and its staff on 15 March 2001. The trust established a working group of health visitors that informed the development of an action plan to address issues identified by Professor Cowley; the NHS London Regional Office is monitoring implementation of this action plan.

As part of that action plan, Parkside NHS trust and its partner organisations are planning a conference for staff and clients that will explore the health visitor's role including needs assessment issues.

Any specific evidence of poor management practice at an NHS trust not being resolved through local policies and procedures brought to the Department's attention would elicit prompt, appropriate action to remedy the situation. I have asked the NHS London Regional Office to follow up with Parkside Health NHS trust whether there are any identifiable issues within what I understand to be one of Professor Cowley's working papers rather than a formal report and to advise me whether such action is necessary.

Following Professor Cowley's report, Parkside NHS trust wrote to all health visitor staff on 26 April 2001 indicating that HNAT was still in a developmental stage and that they may choose to use it as part of their assessment and prioritisation of client needs but are under no compulsion to do so.

The trust has a policy on violence in the workplace that specifically addresses safety on home visits; this has recently been updated. There have been no reports made to the trust of violence connected with use of the HNAT; any such report would be taken seriously and investigated as required under trust policies.

Social Services Standard Spending Assessment

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list in rank order for each local authority

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(a) the total standard spending assessment for social services and (b) the standard spending assessment for social services per head of population [7148]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

PFI Pilot Projects

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what timescale he intends to take forward the three PFI pilot projects which include the contracting-out of the management of ancillary services. [7157]

Mr. Hutton: The aim is to complete the evaluation of the three private finance initiative pilot projects before the end of the year.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent representations he has received on fibromyalgia; and what provision exists for the diagnosis and treatment of this disease; [7259]

Jacqui Smith: The Department has recently received representations from local branches of the Fibromyalgia Support Group requesting more research into the condition, and raised public awareness.

The national health service provides a wide range of services to which people with fibromyalgia have access, and patients are seen within a wide range of hospital specialties. Health authorities and primary care trusts plan and arrange the services available to people in their care, as they are closest to the people they serve and so best placed to respond sensitively to their needs.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fibromyalgia was launched in March, chaired by the noble Lady the Countess of Mar. This should help increase public awareness of the condition.

Special Advisers and Press Officers

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers were employed (i) full time, (ii) part time and (iii) on a contract basis by his Department in each year since 1992. [6897]

Ms Blears: The information requested is shown in the tables:

Table 1: Special advisers(79)

(i) Full-time(ii) Part-time

(79) All special advisers are employed by the Department on a contractual basis

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Table 2: Press officers(80)

(i) Full-time(ii) Part-time

(80) There were no Press Officers employed by the Department on a contractual basis

London Weighting

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the total value of London weightings and London living allowances for his Department; and if he will make a statement. [6866]

Ms Blears: The information requested is shown in the table.

Allowance nameTotal (£)(81)
London weighting1,396,852
Other London living allowances145,245
Grand total1,542,097

(81) The annual estimated value of these allowances


August 2001 payroll data

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