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Private Sector Operations

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the operation of the concordat between the NHS and the private sector in the last year; [24351]

Mr. Hutton: The concordat has encouraged better use of spare capacity in the independent sector, which has allowed national health service patients to be treated more quickly.

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According to data collected from independent healthcare providers by the Independent Healthcare Association, since November 2000 at least 75,000 patients have been treated in the independent sector, paid for by the NHS. This figure includes out-patient appointments, day cases and in-patient treatment. A breakdown by type of operation will shortly be placed in the Library. The IHA does not collect cost information.

The Department has recently surveyed health authorities and trusts on the amount of activity they are purchasing for NHS patients within the private sector and will make available key results in due course. The Department is also currently reviewing its information needs as far as NHS-funded activity in the private sector is concerned.

The challenge remains to put NHS use of private sector capacity on a planned footing. Some health authorities and primary care trusts have made particular progress on this front, but overall the picture is still generally one of "spot" purchasing.

The Department has recently announced a five point plan for expanding the role of non-NHS providers in the NHS, including up to £40 million for NHS-funded operations this winter, a national contract framework between the NHS and the private sector, inviting private companies to build and run diagnostic and treatment centres, dedicating existing private hospitals to NHS work and using overseas providers.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which private facilities have been used under the concordat with the NHS. [24541]

Mr. Hutton: Arrangements between the national health service and the independent sector under the concordat for the treatment of NHS patients are made locally. This information is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many paramedics were employed in 2001 in (a) London and (b) West Sussex. [24330]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is shown in the table.

NHS Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS): ambulance paramedics within the London Regional Office, South East Regional Office areas and East Sussex, Brighton and Hove health authority area as at 30 September 2000

Whole-time equivalentsHeadcount
London Regional Office Area780780
South East Regional Office Area1,0501,060
Of which
West Sussex HA    230230
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove HA(36)   

(36) East Sussex, Brighton and Hove HA provide ambulance staff for the whole of Sussex, therefore, staff working within the West Sussex HA area cannot be separately identified.


Figures are rounded to the nearest 10


Department of Health non-medical workforce census

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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many paramedics retired from the service in 2001 (a) in England, (b) from the London ambulance service and (c) from the Sussex ambulance service. [24331]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is not collected centrally.

CT/MRI Scanners

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) CT and (b) MRI scanners are in working use in the NHS. [24663]

Yvette Cooper: There are approximately 285 CT scanners and approximately 190 MRI scanners in working use in the national health service in England, as of December 2001.

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By 2004, central programmes will provide a further 69 additional CT and 72 additional MRI scanners for the NHS in England, as well as over 130 replacement CT and MRI scanners.

NHS Chief Executive

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he last met the Chief Executive of the NHS. [24336]

Mr. Milburn: I meet Nigel Crisp, the Chief Executive, on a regular basis.

District and Community Nurses

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many district and community nurses there are in England and Wales, and how many there were in each of the last five years. [24344]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is shown in the table.

NHS Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS): Qualified nursing staff working within the community areas of work in England and Wales as at 30 September each year

All staff—whole-time equivalents48,93049,43050,81052,08053,530
of which:
Health Visitors10,78010,67010,71010,81010,640
District Nurses12,86012,49012,41012,39012,310
Other community nursing25,29026,27027,68028,89030,590
of which:
Community psychiatric9,2309,56010,00010,26010,860
Community learning difficulties3,0003,1303,2103,4103,550
Community services13,07013,58014,47015,21016,180
All staff—headcount61,25062,87065,34067,22069,660
of which:
Health Visitors13,16013,22013,42013,62013,570
District Nurses15,80015,74015,60015,64015,850
Other community nursing32,29033,91036,32037,97040,240
of which:
Community psychiatric9,87010,32010,80011,14011,800
Community learning difficulties3,3203,4403,5903,7703,990
Community services19,10020,14021,93023,05024,440


1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Figures exclude learners and agency staff.

3. Due to rounding totals may not equal the sum of component parts.


Department of Health non-medical work force census

NHS Staff Census—National Assembly for Wales

Hospital Star Rating Scheme

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what choices for alternative treatment locations there are for patients whose local hospital has been given zero stars under the Government's hospital star rating scheme. [24312]

Mr. Hutton: We have made it clear that the ratings are not primarily about the quality of clinical care. They do not mean that a poorly performing hospital has low standards, is unsafe or does not contain some very good clinical services. Staff are often doing a good job but the assessments show that organisational performance does need to improve.

Our new proposals on patient choice mean that from July 2002, if a patient with coronary heart disease has been on an in-patient waiting list for over six months, they will be able to seek swifter treatment in either the private sector, in another European Union country or in a different national health service hospital. This option is available regardless of a trust's performance rating and will be extended across England throughout 2002–03.

Autism Awareness Year

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures the Government are proposing to help promote autism awareness year. [24347]

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Jacqui Smith: We welcome initiatives which aim to improve our knowledge and understanding of autism. Autism awareness year is seeking to raise awareness, through voluntary sector partnerships, of the issues surrounding autism and to influence and inspire action to facilitate the changes needed to services and attitudes to autism. I was delighted to accept an invitation to speak at an autism awareness year conference to be held on 14 February.

We will listen carefully to the messages which emerge from this and other current and recently completed initiatives in this field. These include the independent "National Initiative on Autism: Screening and Assessment" and the two reports commissioned by the Department of Health—from Dr. Tony Holland on Asperger's Syndrome and from the Medical Research Council on the epidemiology and causes of autism.

Pathology Services

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many private providers of pathology services have renewed their contracts with the NHS since 1994; [24327]

Mr. Hutton: The national health service has for many years worked closely with private sector providers of pathology equipment, consumables, IT and transport. There are no centrally held statistical data on these arrangements.

Two private sector companies are currently known to have contracts to provide laboratory medicine services to the national health service. These are Quest Diagnostics Ltd. at West Middlesex NHS Trust and The Doctors Laboratory at Ealing NHS Trust. Both of these are still in operation. Omnilabs had a contract at the Lister Hospital, Stevenage but this has recently expired.

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