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Mr. Hutton: We expect that the growth in consultant numbers to deliver the NHS Plan (7,500 more by 2004) and strong continuing growth thereafter will provide sufficient numbers for all consultants to adhere to the European working time directive.
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Through new ways of working, supported by pay modernisation, we expect to see increased numbers of staff working more flexibly with increased productivity and some roles currently carried out by consultants being transferred to other members of the health care team.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many consultants practising in the NHS are aged over 55 years; and how many consultants aged over 55 years were practising in (a) 2000, (b) 1998, (c) 1996, (d) 1994 and (e) 1992. 
|Consultants over 55||3,250||3,200||3,270||3,490||3,720||3,890|
|Percentage of all consultants||19.0||17.7||16.1||15.7||15.3||15.1|
Department of Health medical and dental workforce census
|3 month vacancy rates (percentage)||3.0|
|3 month vacancies (number)||670|
|Staff in post||21,630|
1. Three month vacancies are vacancies as at 31 March 2001 which trusts are actively trying to fill, which had lasted for three months or more (whole time equivalents).
2. Three month vacancy rates are three month vacancies expressed as a percentage of three month vacancies plus staff in post from the September 2000 medical and dental workforce census (whole-time equivalent).
3. Numbers are rounded to the nearest ten.
4. Percentages are rounded to one decimal place.
5. Due to rounding calculating the vacancy rates using the above data may not equal the actual vacancy rates.
Department of Health Vacancies Survey 2001
Department of Health medical and dental workforce census 2000
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hours consultant physicians are contracted to work per week; how many hours were worked by consultant physicians over the contracted time, on average, in the last 12 months; and how many additional consultants would be needed to maintain levels of service if consultants worked only their contracted hours. 
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Mr. Hutton: Consultants hold a professional contract that does not specify particular hours of work. Whole-time and maximum part-time contract holders have a contractual commitment to devote substantially the whole of their professional time, up to 11 sessions, to their NHS duties.
The table shows the number of hospital medical consultants by contract in England as at 30 September 2001. The table gives a breakdown of contract holders on national terms and conditions of service by (a) whole time, (b) maximum part time and (c) part time. The number of honorary contract holders is also provided.
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Due to rounding figures may not equal the sum of component parts.
3. Percentages were calculated using unrounded figures.
Department of Health 2001 medical and dental workforce census.
A 1999 survey by management consultants KPMG for the 28th report of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration showed that the average number of hours worked per week for whole time consultants, excluding emergency recalls, was 51.3 hours and for maximum part-timers 48.7 hours.
Mr. Hutton: As at 30 September 2001, the date of the Department's annual work force censuses, 1,380 more consultants were working in the national health Service than there were at 30 September 2000. Overall since 1997 the number of consultants employed in the national health service has increased by 4,320 (20 per cent.).
10 Apr 2002 : Column 474W
(146) Physicians as recognised by the Royal College of Physicians includes staff in the listed specialties:
Allergy, Audiological medicine, Cardiology, Clinical genetics, Clinical Neurophysiology, Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, Dermatology, Endocrinology and diabetes mellitus, Gastroenterology, General Medicine, Genito-urinary medicine, Geriatric medicine, Haematology, Immunology, Infectious diseases, Medical oncology, Neurology, Nuclear medicine, Palliative medicine, Rehabilitation medicine, Renal medicine, Respiratory medicine, Rheumatology.
Department of Health medical and dental workforce census
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many staff within the NHS have been suspended from work as a result of allegations and complaints by whistleblowers in the last two full available years; 
Mr. Hutton: We expect a climate of openness and dialogue in the national health service and a culture and an environment that encourages staff to feel able to raise concerns about health care matters sensibly and responsibly without fear of victimisation.
NHS trusts routinely report suspensions lasting six months or longer to the Department. As at 31 December 2001, the latest date for which figures are available, 29 hospitals and community medical and dental staff had been suspended for more than six months. These suspensions are not as a result of individuals whistleblowing.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what trend data are available to measure progress against the PSA target for a reduction in the death rate from suicide and undetermined injury. 
Jacqui Smith: Data to monitor the PSA target to reduce the death rate from suicide and undetermined injury (less inquest-adjourned cases) are obtained from mortality data published by the Office for National Statistics. Data are for England.
This PSA target is the target published in 2000 in the NHS Plan and previously in 1999 in the White Paper "Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation" for a 20 per cent. reduction against a baseline of the average age standardised mortality rate for the three years 199597.
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|Period||Mortality rate per 100,000 population|
Jacqui Smith: No more figures are available since the answer I gave the hon. Member on 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 938W. The in-year estimates I quoted then are what are used to monitor efficiency gains and no further information will be available.
Information provided by councils during in-year monitoring suggests that for social services in England the estimated efficiency gain was 2.1 per cent. for 19992000, 2.3 per cent. for 200001 and 2.5 per cent. for 200102. This means the efficiency gains achieved in 200102 fell short of the 3 per cent. target, although the targets of 2 per cent. for each of the previous two years were exceeded. Over the three years the total estimated efficiency gain was 7.1 per cent, all but meeting the total of the efficiency targets over three years of 7.2 per cent.
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