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Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many new GPs were recruited in 1999–2000 and 2000–01. [9092]

Mr. Hutton: The latest data available are for September 2000. Data for September 2001 will be available at the end of January 2002. The information is shown in the table. The number of general practitioners

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registrars (GPs in training) increased from 1,520 in September 1999 to 1,659 in September 2000, an increase of 9.1 per cent.

Unrestricted Principals and Equivalents (UPEs)(9) analysis of workforce and flows, 1999–2000

of which:
new joiners958
Change in UPEs113

(9) UPEs includes GMS unrestricted principals, PMS contracted GPs and PMS salaried GPs

(10) Number of UPEs are numbers at 1 October 1999 and 30 September 2000

Other rows relate to changes between successive October/ September censuses


Department of Health General Medical and Personal Medical Services Statistics

Student Nurses

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the timetable of his review of funding for student nurses. [10935]

Mr. Hutton: The Department completed its review last year and following this Ministers considered options for amendment of the current support arrangements. Following the announcement in the March 2001 Budget of additional funding for the National Health Service, the decision was made to direct extra money to all NHS funded students, using an across the board increase in basic bursary rates, rather than targeting specific groups. With effect from September this year bursary rates were increased by 10.4 per cent., the biggest increase since bursaries were introduced in the late 1980s.

Head Injury

Mr. Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to commission research into the incidence and prevalence of head injury. [11667]

Ms Blears: The Department has supported, and continues to support, research into head injury through the national health service research programmes. The Department welcomes high quality research applications in response to nationally advertised calls for proposals.

In 1999–2000 the Medical Research Council spent almost £2 million on research related to the area of head injury. Priorities for research are kept under review and reflect analysis of the burden of disease, potential benefits and Government priorities.

Departmental Assets

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what stocks of (a) antiques, (b) paintings and (c) fine wines are held by his Department; if he will list such assets sold over the last three years together with the sale proceeds from such transactions; what plans he has to sell

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further such assets over the period of the current comprehensive spending review; and if he will make a statement. [10832]

Ms Blears: The Department does not held any stocks of antiques, paintings and fine wines and no such assets have been sold over the last three years.

Eye Tests

Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve access to NHS eye tests. [12377]

Jacqui Smith: Since we extended eligibility to free national health service sight tests to people aged 60 or over, with effect from April 1999, nearly 3 million more people are receiving NHS sight tests each year. We have no plans to extend the eligibility criteria further, but we wish to publicise the benefits to eye health of having a regular sight test and eye examination.

Strategic Health Authorities

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health within which statutory format the proposed strategic health authorities will operate from April 2002. [12367]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 5 November 2001]: We plan to bring forward a bill in the current Session to provide the necessary powers to introduce strategic health authorities and to reallocate current health authority functions to primary care trusts. Subject to parliamentary approval strategic health authorities will be introduced as soon as possible after Royal Assent.

The reduction in the number of health authorities from April 2002 will be achieved using existing powers under section 8 of the National Health Service Act 1977.

MRI Scanners

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the sources of expenditure were on new linear accelerators and MRI scanners in each of the last two years. [12714]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 6 November 2001]: Some £43 million has been made available for linear accelerators and some £26 million for MRI scanners from the New Opportunities Fund cancer initiative from September 1999 to date. These sums have purchased 57 linear accelerators and 36 MRI scanners. In parallel, the £100 million national health service central fund initiative for cancer diagnostic equipment which began in April 2000 is supporting investment in CT scanners.

These sums are in addition to equipment purchased locally by NHS trusts. Full information is not held centrally, but at least eight linear accelerators and 26 MRI scanners supported by trust funding have been installed over the same period.

Future NHS funding for 45 linear accelerators and 50 MRI scanners is also planned as announced in the NHS Cancer Plan.

NHS Patients

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health with which EU nations his Department has had discussions over the treatment of NHS patients. [12704]

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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 6 November 2001]: The Department has had discussions with all other member states on the financial consequences of treatments provided under Regulation (EEC) 1408/71, including referrals of individual patients for treatment using the E112 arrangements.

Following recent rulings of the European Court of Justice, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State notified both the Commission and other member states of his decision to amend domestic legislation to clarify that health authorities and trusts may commission treatment from other member states of the European Economic Area. Officials have since met or corresponded with representatives of hospital providers from Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Norway.

Nursing Care

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons (a) the consultation process on free nursing care arrangements ran for four weeks and (b) the consultations on care standard regulations ran for 10 weeks. [13154]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 9 November 2001]: Consultation on the care standards regulations lasted for a period of 12 weeks and this is the usual amount of time for carrying out a consultation. However, on free nursing care, it was necessary, exceptionally, to reduce the period of formal consultation to four weeks in order to ensure that individuals could benefit financially from these arrangements from 1 October. In recognition of this, extra efforts were made to ensure that those most interested were aware of the consultation. Many organisations were sent copies of the guidance and invited to comment. Requests to extend the deadline from individuals and organisation were viewed sympathetically.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many health authorities, primary care groups and primary care trusts had not appointed (a) a nursing home co-ordinator and (b) a lead nurse by 1 November. [13158]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 9 November 2001]: As far as we are aware, all the relevant English health authorities and primary care trusts have people in place to fill these roles.

NHS Trusts (Franchises)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria he will use to determine when an NHS trust might be made subject of a franchise arrangement. [13510]

Mr. Hutton: If a national health service body is not performing one of its functions adequately or at all, or there are significant failings in the way the trust is being run my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has the powers, under section 13 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001, to intervene.

In the case of NHS trusts that have recently received a zero star performance rating they are required to provide an action plan, agreed with the Department, to address the particular areas of performance which they need to improve. Franchise arrangements will only be considered if these trusts fail to make progress against their action plan.

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GP Partnerships

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many applicants there were on average for a general practitioner's partnership in 1985; how many there were on average in the last 12 months; what representations he has had from general practitioner about difficulties filling vacancies in their practices; and what is the average time taken to fill such vacancies. [14241]

Mr. Hutton: There were an average of 6.9 applicants per general practitioner vacancy outstanding at some stage during the period 1 April 2000 and 31 March 2001 in England and Wales.

The average time to fill each GP vacancy was 4.8 months.

There is no information available on the average number of applicants in 1985.

The Department regularly meets the General Practitioner Committee of the British Medical Association to discuss issues affecting recruitment and retention.

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