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General Practitioners

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of general practitioner surgeries who were using clinical computer systems in March 1999 were connected to the NHSnet by the end of 1999. [45719]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 25 March 2002]: Approximately 29 per cent. of computerised general practitioner (GP) practices had NHSnet connections by the end of 1999.

There are now currently 98 per cent. of GP practices connected to NHSnet. The outstanding GP practices are those for whom it is not currently cost-effective to provide NHSnet connections, for example those planning to merge, or where the practitioner is planning to retire. Remaining work is being carried forward as part of the wider strategic target to connect all national health service staff by March 2003.

Special Advisers

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many times special advisers have accompanied Ministers on overseas visits in each of the last five years; which countries were visited; and what the total cost of each individual visit was. [47138]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 10 April 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins) by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Ms Blears) on 13 March 2002, Official Report, column 1142W.


Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the average response time for ambulances in each of the NHS trusts in Lancashire has been in each year since 1997; [48597]

Ms Blears: Response times are not measured on the basis of the national health service trust to which the patient is conveyed. Neither are individual vehicles assigned to specific NHS trusts.

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Information about ambulance responses to emergency calls is not available for individual NHS trusts in Lancashire. Information about Lancashire Ambulance Service NHS Trust and all other ambulance NHS trusts, about the proportion of emergency calls resulting in an ambulance arriving at the scene of the reported incident within the Government's target response times is contained in the Department's statistical bulletin "Ambulance Services, England 2000–01". A copy of the bulletin is available in the Library, and at

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce yellow as the mandatory colour for ambulances. [47853]

Jacqui Smith: The Department currently has no plans to introduce yellow as the mandatory colour for ambulances.

Section 64 Funding

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the organisations which receive funding under the section 64 General Scheme under the Health and Public Services Act 1968; and how much money each received in the last financial year. [47834]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Junior Doctors' Hours

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of trusts are meeting New Deal hours targets for junior doctors. [47848]

Mr. Hutton: From figures produced at the September 2001 monitoring round, 24 per cent. of trusts were reported to be meeting the New Deal requirements. However, the 66 trusts involved are mostly small community trusts, in total employing only 6 per cent. of all doctors in training, and only 11 per cent. of all doctors meeting the New Deal. Overall, 64 per cent. of junior doctors in all types of trusts complied fully with the New Deal hours and rest requirements at 30 September 2001.

Ward Housekeepers

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of NHS trusts employ ward housekeepers. [47010]

Mr. Hutton: The NHS Plan set a target for 50 per cent. of all hospitals to have housekeepers working on wards by 2004. Data compiled in March 2002 show that 41 per cent. of NHS trusts, excluding ambulance trusts, report that they are employing housekeepers within their hospitals on a number of their wards.

Acute trusts with housekeepers7349
Community trusts with housekeepers 1927
Mental health trusts with housekeepers1030
Multiservices trusts with housekeepers1940

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Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to combat the rise in syphilis. [47873]

Yvette Cooper: We have funded a range of national and local interventions aimed at reducing the recent resurgence of syphilis in England. These include an awareness campaign for groups most at risk of syphilis, reviewing and updating of national enhanced laboratory surveillance for syphilis and improving outbreak management skills. We have also funded local interventions in London, Manchester and Brighton, which complement national initiatives, but are more targeted, appropriate and sensitive to local circumstances.

In addition, the Sexual Health and HIV Strategy announced a new mass-media safer-sex campaign to improve awareness of sexually transmitted infections and how to avoid them. This is planned for the autumn.

Drug Abuse

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much NHS spending there was in 2001–02 on serological screening and direct investigative testing for (a) HIV, (b) chlamydia and (c) related hepatitis due to drug abuse and usage. [47874]

Yvette Cooper: Information about NHS spending on serological screening and direct investigative testing for these infections is not collected centrally. The National Blood Service spent £1.575 million on screening the blood supply for HIV in 2001–02 (and a further £7.138 million on screening for hepatitis B and hepatitis C).

Patient Travelling Expenses

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the entitlement is of patients to claim expenses (a) when travelling between their home and hospital and (b) when travelling between their home and the point of departure for international treatment. [47838]

Jacqui Smith: Anyone on a low income, who needs to go to hospital for national health service treatment under the care of a consultant may claim full or partial reimbursement of travelling costs. Help is provided on an income-related basis through the hospital travel costs scheme which is part of the NHS low income scheme. If such a patient is travelling abroad for NHS treatment, they may also receive assistance with travelling costs from home to the point of international departure through the hospital travel costs scheme.

Information on the above schemes is contained in leaflet HC11 'Are you entitled to help with health costs?' available either in the Library or nhscharges/hc11.htm.

Vulnerable Adults

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason the introduction of the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list has been delayed until August 2002. [47831]

Jacqui Smith: It has been necessary to address complex issues on the healthcare aspects of the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (PoVA) scheme. When PoVA is

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implemented in August, it is the intention that the recently established Criminal Records Bureau will extend its services to include checks against the PoVA list.


Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans the Government have to ensure that social workers, health workers and other people working with people suffering from schizophrenia receive better training and support; [47918]

Jacqui Smith: The Department of Health does not set the curricula for pre-registration and undergraduate health professional education. This is a matter for the professional regulatory bodies to determine.

It is the responsibility of local managers of NHS organisations locally to determine both the work force and the skill mix they require to provide local health services and whether or not to fund training or continuing professional development (CPD) programmes for their staff. We are taking steps to ensure that training for all NHS staff relates closely to national service frameworks.

The key drivers, principles and opportunities for education, training and CPD in the NHS are set out in the recently issued "Working Together—Learning Together, a Framework for Lifelong Learning for the NHS". The strategy is focused on ensuring all staff are equipped with the skills and knowledge to work flexibly in support of patients and that they are supported to grow, develop and realise their potential and enhance their careers.

On social care the Department has supported the new qualification for mental health staff, Certificate in Community Mental Health Care, that has been developed by the Mental Health Foundation and was launched in June 2000. This certificate is a vocational qualification aimed at practitioners in the mental health field who do not have a professional qualification relating to mental health. It is linked to NVQ Level 3.

Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what measures the Government have put in place since 1997 to improve the financial integration and communication among Government agencies to help ensure a better service for people suffering from schizophrenia and their carers; and what assessment he has made of improvements as a result; [47922]

Jacqui Smith: The Government's aim is to develop the whole range of mental health services so that all people can access the right services at the time when they need them. "The National Service Framework for Mental Health" (NSF), published in September 1999, has set the agenda for a comprehensive modernisation of mental health services.

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The document "Effective Care Co-ordination in Mental Health Services", issued in October 1999, stressed the need for all agencies to work together to meet clients' needs for health and social care in an integrated way. This principle applies across all mental health services, not just those for people with schizophrenia, although the NSF and the related NHS Plan commitments do identify people with severe mental illness as a high priority for improved services.

The new services referred to in the NHS Plan are in the early stages of implementation but it is envisaged that, by 2004, 100,000 people will benefit from crisis resolution services, 20,000 from assertive outreach services, 7,500 from early intervention services and 5,000 from mental health in-reach services in prisons. Many of the recipients of these services will have schizophrenia.

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