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NHS Professionals

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the additional costs involved in providing temporary staff with enhanced contractual terms through NHS Professionals. [41721]

Mr. Hutton: NHS Professionals charges a management fee to recoup operating costs currently set at a maximum of 7.5 per cent. This compares favourably with that of commercial agencies as highlighted in the Audit Commission report "Brief Encounters—Getting the Best from Temporary Nursing Staff". This report indicated wide variations in the commission rates charged by agencies with an averaging charge of 20.5 per cent.

NHS Properties

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what was the (a) estimated and (b) actual value of NHS property sales in each of the last five years; [41705]

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Ms Blears: The planned and actual receipts from sale of property from when the spending review process started is as follows.

£ million



Figures shown for Hospital and Community Health Services capital receipts.

The main reason for the disparity between planned and actual sales is due to transfers between NHS trusts or to NHS trusts from the Secretary of State for Health's ownership being recorded as a sale.

Details of how many properties are for sale or scheduled for sale is not held centrally. The planned receipts from sales of property is:

Planned (£ million)


Figures shown for Hospital and Community Health Services planned capital receipts.

The Department does not hold information about the numbers of properties that are vacant at any one time. There are a variety of reasons why property might be vacant, including awaiting refurbishment/development for health care purposes, or awaiting sale. The NHS seeks to make the optimum use of the estate, and to keep the number of empty properties to a minimum.

Medical Treatment

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many UK patients were treated in each overseas country (a) in and (b) outside the EEA in 2000–01; and how many patients from each country (i) in and (ii) outside the EEA were treated in the UK in each year. [40877]

Mr. Hutton: The available information has been placed in the Library.

UK residents are treated abroad in a variety of circumstances. No information is held centrally on treatment obtained abroad privately and which are the patients' own responsibility. Patients are likewise personally responsible for arranging and paying for treatments given in countries with which the UK has no reciprocal health agreements, with the exception of a few instances where special approval has been given for the NHS to pay for highly specialised treatment for serious conditions.

There are reciprocal health agreements with some non-EEA countries which provide emergency care for UK residents on temporary visits. But because these are on a

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cost waiver basis there is generally little information available to the UK on numbers of patients treated in the partner country.

Regulation (EEC) 1408/71 is the EC legislation which co-ordinates the health care systems of the EEA. It allows for health care to be provided abroad in a variety of circumstances. Member states pay each other for these treatments but information available is generally on treatment costs rather than patient numbers.

For patients coming to the UK, no information is held by the Department on treatments in the private sector. Neither is information held centrally on the number of patients not normally resident in the UK who have been treated by the NHS.

The bilateral health agreements with the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, some Caribbean and Atlantic Overseas Territories, Gibraltar and Malta permit limited numbers of referrals to the UK specifically for treatment. Some information is available centrally in respect of emergency treatments provided in the UK under bilateral reciprocal health agreements and in respect of treatments provided under Regulation 1408/71.


Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average cost to the NHS of (a) a cataract extraction and (b) a cataract extraction with a lens implant was in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [43499]

Ms Blears: The national average cost for a cataract extraction with lens implant varies according to how the procedure is undertaken. For 2000–01 the national unit costs are:

Unit cost £
Phakoemulsification cataract extraction with lens implant
Elective in-patient861
Non-elective in-patient1,073
Day case583
Other cataract extraction with lens implant
Elective in-patient799
Non-elective in-patient1,283
Day case572

These costs exclude the cost of out-patient attendances. In 2000–01, 594,320 such attendances were reported for cataract and lenses. The unit cost is £60 per attendance.

No separate costings are available for a cataract extraction without implant.

Hearing Aids

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 11 March 2002, Official Report, column 833W, on hearing aids, when he expects to announce the latest wave of trusts sites to receive funding for the provision of digital hearing aids. [47539]

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Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he has determined the additional hospital trusts which will be able to offer digital hearing aids; and when an announcement will be made. [48547]

Jacqui Smith: I am happy to announce that the sites listed will form the second wave of the Modernising Hearing Aid Services pilot project:

In addition, Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust and the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, which provided digital hearing aids to adults only as part of the first wave, will now be providing hearing aids to children as well. University Hospitals Birmingham will now be fitting children's hearing aids at the Birmingham Children's Hospital.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many representations he has received from hon. Members regarding amending the Adoption and Children Bill to extend rights of adoption to unmarried couples; [47372]

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Jacqui Smith: We are looking thoroughly at the many and complex issues of partnership registration, rights and responsibilities. Adoption will, alongside all other relevant issues, be considered as part of that work.

Under the existing Adoption Act 1976 single people may adopt (regardless of sexual orientation), but only married couples may adopt jointly. It is open for one unmarried partner to adopt a child and for the other to obtain parental responsibility by applying for a residence order in respect of the child. The Adoption and Children Bill makes no change in this area. However the Government recognises that it is an issue for debate. We have taken a consultative approach throughout the progress of this Bill, listening to the views of a wide range of interested parties through the Special Standing Committee. A number of amendments, supported by Members from all sides of the House have been tabled for Report stage. We are giving these amendments careful consideration and they will be debated at Report.

Since the introduction of the Adoption and Children Bill on 19 October 2001, the Department has received ten letters regarding adoption by unmarried couples from hon. Members and over 350 from outside bodies and private individuals. In addition there have been five previous Parliamentary Questions answered and two meetings between Ministers and hon. Members on this topic.

A MORI poll commissioned by BAAF in September 2001, "Attitudes to Adoption", found that 41 per cent. of cohabiting couples say they have considered or would consider adopting a child in the future, compared to 25 per cent. of married couples. A copy will be placed in the Library.

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