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Patient Complaints

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many formal complaints were made by patients about NHS services by activity area in each of the last five years; and how many complaints (a) were resolved within (i) four weeks and (ii) eight weeks and (b) remain unresolved. [24318]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: Data on national health service complaints are available in the Government Statistical Service report, "Handling Complaints: monitoring the NHS complaints procedures, England", copies of which are available in the Library. The data show only complaints resolved within or outside the target for local resolution of 20 working days.

Hospital Cleaning Contracts

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance is given to local health authorities on the awarding of hospital cleaning contracts. [24357]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: Health authorities do not award cleaning contracts for hospitals. It is the responsibility of individual national health service trusts to award cleaning contracts based on the principles of achieving value for money which involves consideration of quality and satisfaction as well as cost.

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NHS Direct

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department's public awareness strategy is for NHS Direct; and what plans he has to launch an awareness campaign over the winter. [24669]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: NHS Direct is an integral part of the Department's "Get the Right Treatment" campaign this winter, as it was last year, and the year before (when the campaign was called "Choose the Right Remedy"). NHS Direct is promoted as one of the range of health care options available to people, along with self-care, the pharmacist, the general practitioner surgery, accident and emergency and 999.

National activity includes press advertising in television listings and women's weekly magazines, and media relations campaign targeting women's consumer and lifestyle media and a centrally produced A6 folded leaflet distributed through pharmacies and GP surgeries.

A 'Get the Right Treatment' campaign toolkit has been distributed to all communications leads within the national health service, designed to help them support the national campaign at a local level.

Emergency Ambulance Services

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are in place to stop the misuse of ambulance emergency services by the general public for non-urgent treatment. [24670]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: A number of national health service ambulance trusts have undertaken work to educate their local population about appropriate use of emergency ambulance services.

A fully crewed frontline ambulance will always be sent to life-threatening emergencies. However, ambulance services do not have to send an ambulance vehicle in response to 999 calls which do not require emergency care. Such calls will continue to receive a consistent and appropriate response based on national clinical standards.

Traditional Medicines Directive

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is towards the traditional medicines directive. [24661]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 8 January 2002]: On the basis of preliminary drafts of the proposals, we would see a directive on traditional medicines as a potential opportunity to put in place a legally secure and appropriate regulatory regime for traditional herbal remedies of the kind currently sold as unlicensed herbal remedies under Section 12(2) of the Medicines Act 1968. A regime of this kind would give the public better assurances as to safety and quality as well as providing systematic information about the use of the product. Manufacturers would be able to make agreed minor claims based on traditional use. We understand that the commission will be bringing forward formal proposals shortly. We will wish to scrutinise carefully the detailed provisions of the proposals once they are available.

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Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of the report of the National Patient Access Team into waiting list management at Stoke Mandeville hospital; [25503]

Ms Blears [holding answer 9 January 2002]: District audit carried out a thorough investigation, over several weeks, and interviewed 54 witnesses. The investigation was carried out by independent staff, with experience of the relevant issues. The Department considers the report adequate for the issues it was intended to address. A copy has been placed in the Library.

No formal report was produced following the one day National Patient Access Team review so no report is available to be placed in the Library. The review team identified a number of weaknesses in waiting list management. As a result of this review, the district audit investigation referred to was carried out.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will state, in respect of the patients at Stoke Mandeville hospital who were found in the district audit investigation to have been suspended irregularly from waiting lists, how many were patients (a) waiting for the second stage of a bilateral procedure, (b) who self- deferred having declined a reasonable treatment plan and (c) who were suspended without reason. [25498]

Ms Blears [holding answer 9 January 2002]: The categorisation of suspensions by district audit did not include a specific number of patients waiting for a second stage of a bilateral procedure. These were included in the overall total of 35 patients who had inappropriately waited more than 18 months for treatment and who were categorised as system errors. No further analysis of these patients' cases was carried out, and such analysis would not be feasible without significant additional resources being diverted to the task.

The categorisation of patients by district audit did not include a specific number of patients who self-deferred having declined a reasonable treatment plan. These were included in the overall total of 35 patients who had inappropriately waited more than 18 months for treatment and who were categorised as system errors.

43 patients were found by district audit to have been suspended from waiting list inclusion without reason.

Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the latest figures are for the Mid Essex hospital services NHS trust area for the (a) total number of people waiting for hospital treatment and (b) total number of people waiting less than (i) 18, (ii) 15, (iii) 12 and (iv) six months for hospital treatment. [26810]

Mr. Hutton: The total number of patients waiting at Mid Essex hospital services national health service trust at November 2001 is 8,787.

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The additional information requested is given in the table.

Number of patients waiting more than 18 months, up to 18 months, up to 15 months, and up to 12 months for inpatient treatment at Mid Essex hospital services national health service trust

November 2001
Number waiting less than 18 months for inpatient treatment8,787
Number waiting less than 15 months for inpatient treatment8,726
Number waiting less than 12 months for inpatient treatment8,335
Number waiting less than 6 months for inpatient treatment6,361

Source:

These data are nationally published data, taken from Regional Offices Data Systems.


Older People

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate his Department has made of the cost to the NHS of falls as identified in standard 6 of the national service framework for older people. [26816]

Jacqui Smith: No detailed estimate of the full cost of falls to the national health service has been made. Hip fracture is the most common serious injury related to falls in older people and as such makes up a large proportion of NHS costs on falls. The national service framework for older people referred to estimated annual costs of hip fracture to the NHS of around £1.7 billion.

Type II Diabetes

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to receive a response from the UK screening committee on their assessment of high-risk screening for type II diabetes. [27315]

Jacqui Smith: The United Kingdom National Screening Committee has decided that further research, which may require some complex studies, is needed to inform its advice. It will report to the Department in 2005.


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