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Overseas Treatment

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to allow the Isle of Wight (a) hospital trust, (b) health authority and (c) primary care group (i) to purchase operations abroad, (ii) to offer assistance with travel costs to patients being operated on abroad and (iii) to offer assistance with travel costs for relatives of patients being operated on abroad; and what financial resources he is making available for those purposes and to meet additional administrative costs. [22792]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 13 December 2001]: In the light of rulings of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in July this year my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 27 August that national health service bodies could commission treatment for NHS patients from other member states of the European Economic Area (EEA), as part of their wider efforts to reduce waiting times. My right hon. Friend made it clear that NHS bodies would need to meet the costs of treating NHS patients elsewhere in the EEA out of their existing budgets.

The regulations governing reimbursement of travel costs are being amended to enable NHS bodies to pay the travel costs of patients from the point of departure for their international journey (an airport, international train station or ferry port). Travel costs incurred by relatives of those being treated abroad will only be reimbursed if it is necessary on medical grounds that the patient be accompanied.

On 15 October my right hon. Friend announced that the Department would be working with three test-bed sites in the south-east of England, East Kent, Portsmouth and West Sussex/East Surrey, on a pilot to send NHS patients to mainland Europe. The Department will produce guidance for the NHS based on the scheme. The first patients should travel in January 2002, subject to contractual discussions.

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on commissioning treatment for NHS patients overseas by the NHS. [25099]

Mr. Hutton: In the light of recent rulings of the European Court of Justice, we announced that we would amend the National Health Service Act 1977 to enable the NHS to commission treatment within the European Economic Area (EEA). We will make regulations shortly. We will also take this opportunity to permit NHS bodies to commission care from outside the EEA, where it is in the patient's best interest to do so. We none the less expect that the overwhelming majority of referrals, where they occur, will be to countries of the EEA.

Regulations will also be made shortly to amend the National Health Service (Travelling Expenses and Remission of Charges) Regulations 1988 to permit NHS

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bodies to pay for the travel of NHS patients going overseas for treatment funded by the NHS. The NHS will meet the cost of the patient's travel from the point at which they begin their international journey (the airport, ferry port or international train station) to the foreign provider. Reimbursement of travel expenses between the patient's home to the airport, ferry port of international train station will be governed by the same rules that currently apply to payment of travelling expenses to hospitals in England. This change will ensure that patients treated overseas under the auspices of the NHS will not be disadvantaged by having to travel further for that treatment.

Health Spending Statistics

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he has collated on the proportion of total expenditure on health which is met by (a) private funding and (b) public funding in (i) each EU country, (ii) the USA, (iii) Australia and (iv) New Zealand in 1998. [22791]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 13 December 2001]: The latest figures for the proportion of total health expenditure that is met by (a) private funding and (b) public funding in (i) each European Union country, (ii) the USA, (iii) Australia and (iv) New Zealand are set out in the table.


Private Public
United Kingdom16178483
New Zealand23227778
United States55554545


OECD Health Data 2001

Care Leavers

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research has been commissioned in the last five years into the experiences of young people who have left the care system. [23247]

Jacqui Smith: There is a growing body of research into the experiences of care leavers. There is a useful summary of most recent material in "Helping Care Leavers: Problems and Strategic Responses" by Professor Mike Stein and Dr. Jim Wade of the University of York, published in 2000 as part of the Department of Health's resource pack "Getting it Right: Good Practice in Leaving Care."

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The social services inspectorate produced a detailed inspection report in this area in 1997, "When Leaving Home is Also Leaving Care". The Department commissioned "Moving On" by Biehal et al, published in 1995. This research was built on by Professor Peter Marsh and Mark Peel at the University of Sheffield, in their Department of Health funded study "Leaving Care in Partnership: Family Involvement with Care Leavers" published in 1999. Other research commissioned recently by the Department includes the "Audit and Assessment of Leaving Care Services in London" by Jenni Vernon of the National Children's Bureau (September 2000).

The Department also has research in progress. In April this year it commissioned Dr. Jim Wade to investigate the costs and outcomes of transitional support for care leavers. The study will consider a range of outcomes achieved by young people and evaluate the costs of different packages of support in different local authorities.

Earlier this year the Department also called for proposals for a study of barriers to further education and training for care leavers under its Quality Protects Research Initiative.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many young people who left the care system went into (a) full-time education, (b) further education, (c) higher education and (d) Government training schemes in the last five years broken down by regions and nations; and what support is given to young people with multiple disadvantages to access job opportunities. [23200]

Jacqui Smith: Statistical information concerning the educational or employment status of care leavers in England over the last five years is not available. A new statistical collection which will provide this information for care leavers aged 19 has recently been introduced by the Department, and the first year of data will cover 12 months ending 31 March 2002. The Department plans to publish this information in autumn 2002.

Matters relating to Wales and Scotland are for the devolved Administrations.

The Department for Education and Skills is currently rolling out the Connexions service across England. This will offer all young people aged 13 to 19 support and advice to help them fulfil their potential by giving them access to a personal adviser. For those with multiple issues to address, the role of the personal adviser will be to help the young person identify their needs and aspirations, supporting them in overcoming difficulties. This will include working with and supporting education and training institutions, and employers, in meeting these needs.

NHS Staff Shortages

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his estimate is of the shortages in the NHS of (a) nurses, (b) GPs, (c) consultants and (d) therapists and other specialist staff. [23253]

Mr. Hutton: The NHS Plan acknowledges that a shortage of human resources is the biggest constraint faced by the National Health Service today. Targets for increasing the number of doctors and nurses were set in the NHS Plan and rolled forward in the manifesto before the last election.

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The NHS Plan targets are for 7,500 more consultants, 2,000 more general practitioners, 6,500 more therapists and other health professionals and 20,000 more nurses by 2004. In September 2000 there were 1,100 more consultants, 126 more GPs, 1,400 more therapists and other health professionals and 6,300 more nurses than in September 1999, the NHS Plan baseline. Provisional data from the 2001 census indicate that 10,000 more nurses were employed in the NHS in 2001 than in 2000.

The manifesto targets are for 10,000 more doctors and 20,000 more nurses by 2005 over the 2000 baseline.

The September 2001 census, giving the latest position against these targets, will be available in January 2002.

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