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Medway Primary Care Trust

Mr. Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has drawn up a shortlist of candidates to fill the post of Chair of Medway Primary Care Trust; when he expects to conduct interviews; and what the expected date of appointment is. [30948]

Ms Blears: The closing date for applications for the post of chair of Medway Primary Care Trust is 15 March. No interview dates have yet been set. However, the National Health Service Appointments Commission anticipate that a decision on the appointment will be made before the end of March.

Private Hospitals

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what training of (a) doctors and (b) nurses for emergency procedures the private sector undertakes; and what help the NHS is able to provide in this regard. [31127]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 28 January 2002]: Information on private sector training of doctors and nurses for emergency procedures is not collected by the National Health Service or the Department of Health. However, the vast majority of doctors and nurses working in the private sector will have been trained in the NHS, where, if the training was undertaken in England, it would include emergency procedures.

Although the independent sector make no direct financial contribution to nurse training, they do provide clinical placements. The availability of quality clinical placements generally is a significant factor in the NHS's capacity to train newly qualified staff. NHS employer-led work force planning takes account of the needs of the independent sector as well as the NHS so that training output is, resources and capacity permitting, aligned to the overall demands of the pool.

When the National Standards Commission takes over the regulation of the private health care sector on 1 April, all providers will have to meet core national minimum standards. This will include a requirement to have on duty at all times a member of staff trained in resuscitation, who has updated training annually. In addition, providers have to meet standards specific to the services they provide. For private hospitals, this includes more detailed and stringent standards covering Advanced Life Support and resuscitation equipment, and the requirement that if the hospital does not have intensive care facilities, it must have an arrangement with another hospital in the vicinity. Whether it is NHS or private, it should have such facilities, for patients to be transferred there in an emergency.

Shropshire Health Authority

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people, expressed as equivalent full-time posts, are employed by Shropshire Health Authority. [34804]

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Yvette Cooper: Shropshire Health Authority currently employs 167 staff. This includes those staff contracted to the Health Authority who are currently working within Primary Care Groups.

Primary Care Trusts (Chairmen)

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) who draws up the criteria used by the Independent Appointments Commission to appoint the chairmen of primary care trusts; [34483]

Ms Blears: The criteria for all appointments to National Health Service Boards are determined by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Two references are sought from all new candidates for appointment and are taken up before an appointment is made. Where candidates are serving NHS board members new references are not sought, but interview panels take into account an appraisal of each candidate's performance in post. No independent assessment is made of the accuracy of curricula vitae provided by candidates. However, all candidates are required to sign a declaration acknowledging the fact that if they are appointed and the information they have provided is subsequently found to be untrue, then their tenure of office may be terminated.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will draw up a timetable for implementation of the recommendation of the CFS/ME Working Group regarding training. [35054]

Yvette Cooper: Responsibility for the content, standards, management and delivery of medical education is shared between regulatory bodies, for example the General Medical Council and the Specialist Training Authority, professional bodies, notably the medical Royal Colleges, universities, the Department of Health and the National Health Service. We expect that these bodies will take account of the latest developments in medicine when developing their syllabuses.

General practitioners are expected to keep their professional skills up-to-date, and learning will always continue even if formal training has ceased.

Working Conditions and Practice

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment has been made of the effect of the Working Time Directive on his Department's employees; how many employees are working in excess of 48 hours per week; what steps he is taking to reduce this number; and if he will make a statement. [35888]

Ms Blears: The Department carried out an assessment of the implications of the Working Time Regulations in 1998 and issued advice and guidance to both individual members of staff and line managers. This guidance is regularly reviewed and is readily available to all staff.

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Under the Regulations only staff who have voluntarily signed a waiver to the limit on the maximum average length of the working week may work more than an average of 48 hours per week.

There are currently 39 such waivers signed by staff in the Department. This represents less than three-quarters of one per cent. of the total number of staff employed by the Department as at 31 December 2001.

We are determined to improve the work/life balance of staff throughout the Department and measures are in place to address instances of long hours working. We remain committed to reducing the number of employees who are required to work in excess of 48 hours per week to an absolute minimum commensurate with meeting the Department's operational needs, and this is kept under regular review.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Torbay of 3 July 2001 concerning Mrs. James of Rousden Road, Chelston, Torquay. [27599]

Jacqui Smith: A reply was sent on 22 January 2002.

Mr. Cran: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when a substantive reply will be given to Julie Hasting's letter of 26 November 2001, concerning the Royal Commission on Long-term Care. [36841]

Jacqui Smith: A reply was sent on 21 February.

EU Health Card

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to publicise the introduction of the EU-wide health card; and if he will make a statement. [37492]

Yvette Cooper: In the Communication from the Commission of the European Communities to the Council of Ministers, entitled XAction Plan for skills and mobility" (Document COM(2002)72—copy available in the Library), the Commission announced its intention to present a proposal early in 2003 for the introduction of an European Union-wide health card. We will look at this proposal constructively when received.

Form E111

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the eligibility of the self-employed is to use (Form E111) for treatment abroad. [38458]

Mr. Hutton: Any European Economic Area national resident in the United Kingdom, whether self-employed or not, is entitled to use form E111 for treatment covered by that form in other EEA member states during temporary visits. The only exceptions are workers posted to this country, and resident here, but who remain insured in another EEA member state.

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Ambulance Trusts

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent guidelines have been issued by his Department to ambulance trusts about protecting the confidentiality of patients involved in accidents or emergencies. [38700]

Ms Blears: Guidance on confidentiality, XThe Protection and Use of Patient Information", was issued to the National Health Service in March 1996 under cover of Health Service Guidance 96/18. This guidance is applicable to all NHS organisations and covers a wide range of circumstances, including accidents and emergencies.

Cancelled Operations

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether figures recording the number of cancelled operations include (a) those operations cancelled before the day of admission and (b) the individual cancellations of patients who have their operation cancelled on multiple occasions. [38684]

Mr. Hutton: Figures are collected on a quarterly basis on the number of patients whose operations are cancelled by the hospital for non-clinical reasons on the day patients are due to arrive, or after arrival in hospital, or on the day of their operation. These figures are not broken down to show whether a patient has been cancelled by the hospital more than once.

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