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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many general practitioners are due to retire in the next 10 years; and if he will make a statement on the effect on the health service of these retirements. [20263]

Mr. Hutton: The Department does not collect information about retirement intentions of general practitioners. All unrestricted principals and equivalents (UPEs) have to retire as a principal by the age of 70. Around 2,200 UPEs will reach 70 by 2011.

In addition there are a further 8,880 doctors who are currently aged between 48 and 58. We might expect a proportion of these doctors to also leave by 2011. A number of doctors continue to work in the national health service after they have claimed their NHS pension until they retire fully.

The target increase in the NHS Plan for GPs is at least 2,000 more by 2004. The increases are based on an assessment of what is deliverable given the numbers expected to come out of training, and what is achievable through action on recruitment and retention. This assessment is set against the number of staff we expect to leave the NHS (leavers and retirements).

Linear Accelerator

(Royal Shrewsbury Hospital)

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the need for a second new linear accelerator at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. [20238]

Mr. Hutton: The provision of a second linear accelerator service to replace the existing cobalt unit was approved in 2000. The new linear accelerator is expected to begin treating patients in spring 2002, forming part of the trust's plan to improve cancer services.

Future decisions on service provision will be made through the North West Midlands Cancer Network, of which the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital National Health Service Trust plays a key part. Each trust has been asked to prepare a cancer service delivery plan that will become part of the network wide facilities strategy.

NHS Dentists

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients in South Tyneside were registered with an NHS dentist in each of the years 1998 to 2001. [20357]

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Jacqui Smith: The number of patients registered with a dentist in the general dental service (GDS) in Gateshead and South Tyneside health authority at 30 September for each of the years 1998 to 2001 is shown in the table.

GDS: Number of registrations in Gateshead and South Tyneside HA, 1998 to 2001 (as at September each year)


New Hospital, Worcester

Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for funding the provision of the extra beds for the new hospital in Worcester. [20524]

Mr. Hutton: Significant investment has been made available nationally to accommodate the required increase in National Health Service capacity to ensure improvements in waiting times for elective surgery and the rapid treatment of emergency inpatients. This has recently been quantified in the national beds inquiry work.

I am advised that in Worcestershire it has been agreed that 86 additional beds will be required in April 2002 over previous plans. This will be financed by additional resources earmarked to meet NHS planned targets. Local health groups are looking at the extent to which these could be replaced in the longer term with alternative facilities in the community. In the meantime, three wards in the Aconbury (East) Unit on the Newtown site of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust have been designated as medical beds.

Worcestershire Health Authority

Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and if he will make a statement on the claim by Worcestershire Health Authority of a loss in value of its fixed assets in its 2000–01 Annual Accounts before the proposed sale of land and demolition of buildings. [20525]

Mr. Hutton: The recognised accountancy bodies have a financial reporting standard (FRS11) that requires that an annual review of the buildings, plant and equipment of an organisation be undertaken where a change has occurred or is expected to occur in the use, and therefore the value of, the asset. These financial reporting standards issued by the recognised accountancy bodies are expected to be applied by all commercial organisations in the United Kingdom in the preparation of their annual accounts.

This is known as impairment of fixed assets. FRS11 requires that the accounts should recognise the change in the value immediately.

During the period 2000–01, the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals National Health Service Trust declared that there had been an impairment in the value of the Kidderminster Hospital Bewdley Road site due to the planned reconfiguration of service provision to develop the new diagnostic and treatment centre. The impairment was deemed to have been incurred when the trust's

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balance sheet was drawn up in June 2001 as there is 'a commitment by the trust's management to undertake significant reorganisation'.


Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that Gutkha style products carry a health warning as required by the Tobacco Products Labelling (Safety) Amendment Regulations 1993. [19991]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 4 December 2001]: Oral tobacco products such as Gutkha are all required to comply with United Kingdom regulations and carry health warnings.

However, we wish to ensure that people have full information and we are, therefore, seeking to develop greater awareness of the health risks associated with oral tobacco as part of our tobacco information strategy. Our Asian tobacco campaign launched in August, focused on high risk ethnic minority populations, to address the health risks of smoking and the use of oral tobacco in order to decrease demand for these products. It is envisaged that an important element of this campaign will be the close involvement of local community organisations and many of these groups are already involved in the planning process. We have funded a training pack for trading standards officers on oral tobacco.

Gynaecological Cancer Services

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what procedures are available to (a) contest and (b) appeal the decision by the Mid Anglia Cancer Network NHS to move gynaecological cancer surgery for women in Mid-Essex from St. John's hospital, Chelmsford, to Ipswich hospital, Suffolk; [20205]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 4 December 2001]: The decision to centralise specialist gynaecological cancer surgery is in line with national guidance which specifies that specialised surgery for gynaecological cancers should be in a single centre of excellence serving a population of 1 million.

The Mid Anglia Cancer Network currently carries out such work in Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford. The recommendation to establish the centre in Ipswich is based on Ipswich hospital having the facilities and capacity for development whereas Chelmsford or

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Colchester, the other sites serving the network, would have to wait for approximately five years for the completion of major capital schemes.

Public consultation on setting up the Mid Anglia Cancer Network has already taken place. A main feature of this was that specialist services would be centralised and this was accepted and supported by the local community health councils, and others, after wide consultation.

Further local public consultation, via the CHCs, will take place from January 2002 on the implementation of centralising gynaecology as the first of the rarer cancers and hon. Members' views would be welcomed.

Care/Support Services

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to improve the management and training of care and support workers following the King's Fund report 'Future Imperfect'; [20345]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 4 December 2001]: We welcome the publication of the King's Fund report "Future Imperfect" which contributes to the important debate about how to improve social services. We are already working with local councils and other agencies to raise standards across care. For example, on 9 October we published "Building Capacity and Partnership in Care" which encourages the development of a wide range of services to meet the diverse needs of communities.

As part of the National Training Strategy for Social Care in England, the National Training Organisation for Social Care (TOPSS) are working on the development of a comprehensive framework of national occupational standards for the social care workforce. These standards describe the tasks that a worker undertakes and determines their position in the career structure that is being developed with the qualifications framework. At present there are numerous different titles given to care and support services staff. However, by relating the work that they undertake to the relevant national occupational standards there will be a national understanding of the tasks that they are undertaking.

On 19 October 2001, we announced a £1.5 million recruitment campaign, which is designed to increase the number of people interested in careers in social work and social care work. As well as tackling recruitment problems, this campaign is designed to raise public awareness of the work that is undertaken by staff in the social care workforce.