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Recruitment and Retention

Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to improve retention and recruitment of doctors in hospitals in rural areas, with specific reference to the West Cumberland Hospital. [51933]

Mr. Hutton: The Recruitment and Retention strategy focuses on all staff groups within the National Health Service including doctors throughout England. In order to ensure there are sufficient doctors in place to provide the treatment and care that patients need, there are a number of initiatives in place:


In the last year the number of NHS consultants rose to 5.7 per cent—the second largest increase on record—by 1,380 to 25,690.

West Cumberland Hospital has experienced difficulties in recruiting doctors and has taken steps to alleviate the problems. These include:


Outpatient Appointments

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hospital outpatient appointments were missed by patients in each year since 1997; and how much this has cost the NHS. [47541]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The number of patients who did not attend consultant outpatient appointments from 1997–98 to 2000–01 are shown in the table. Information up to quarter 2 of 2001–02, is available on the Department's web site www.doh.gov.uk/hospitalactivity.

YearTotal No of Outpatient AppointmentsTotal No of Outpatient AttendencesTotal No of DNAs per cent DNA
2000–0149,524,15943,569,3405,954,81912.0
1999–0048,923,20943,040,6995,882,51012.0
1998–9947,794,36842,145,3975,648,97111.8
1997–9847,264,69841,635,2695,629,42911.9

Note:

Did Not Attends (DNAs) are counted for those patients who gave no advance warning for their non-attendance.

Source:

Department of Health form KH09

We do not centrally collect data on the cost to the NHS of patients who do not attend hospital outpatient appointments.

As part of the NHS Plan all outpatient appointments will be pre-booked by the end of 2005. Patient will be able to choose a date and time that is convenient for them, well in advance. Booking systems, where introduced, have proved to significantly reduce numbers of patients failing to turn up for appointments.


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National Institute for Clinical Excellence

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the nature, extent and timetable of his review of the workings of NICE. [50055]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 16 April 2002]: The Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry included a wide-ranging review of the role of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence. We carefully considered the inquiry team's recommendations and published our response.

We are now carrying out a consultation on a number of outstanding issues. In March of this year, the Department and the National Assembly for Wales issued a discussion paper entitled "Clinical Guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence: Timing and Selection of Topics for Appraisal". The closing date for responses is 7 June 2002.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect on the treatment of patients of the length of time taken by NICE, to assess treatments. [50054]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 16 April 2002]: The treatment of patients is enhanced by authoritative guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). In order to produce authoritative guidance, NICE's processes need to be of sufficient length to allow for proper evaluation of evidence and full consultation with stakeholders and experts.

Lymphoedema

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the resources allocated to the diagnosis and treatment of lymphoedema, in (a) England and (b) Gloucestershire. [50491]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 16 April 2002]: The Department does not collect figures on the cost of NHS services in a way that enables an accurate figure to be calculated for the cost of a particular disease.

Cancer

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his estimate is of the average length of time which patients with suspected cancerous tumours wait to be scanned following reference by a hospital consultant. [49802]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 16 April 2002]: We do not collect waiting times for scans. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans play an important role in the diagnosis of many cancers. The NHS Cancer Plan sets out new goals to reduce waiting times for cancer patients. The target is that by

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2005 no one should wait longer than two months from urgent General Practitioner referral to beginning cancer treatment except for a good clinical reason or through patient choice. This target period includes the time for necessary scans and diagnostic tests. Data collection on the waiting times to treatment targets will be introduced as we roll out the Cancer Plan waiting times targets.

We are also encouraging hospitals to streamline their services, for example by providing multi assessment one stop clinics where several tests can be carried out at the same visit. The length of time that a patient may have to wait for any scan is dependent on their clinical condition with emergency cases needing to be seen immediately whilst other cases can be carried out as quickly as possible. To increase the capacity of diagnostic services, funding has been made available for the provision of new and replacement scanners: 29 new MRI scanners, 81 CT scanners and over 330 pieces of equipment for breast screening delivered to the NHS since April 2000. In addition workforce initiatives are underway to develop new ways of working and improve recruitment and retention of staff.

Smallpox

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what procedures were enacted to raise tenders for the production of smallpox vaccine recently in the UK. [50790]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 18 April 2002]: In seeking to establish which vaccine-manufacturing companies might be able to provide new smallpox vaccine to meet our requirements, we took the decision that purchase would fall outside the usual open competitive tendering process in the interests of national security, in accordance with Paragraph 6(c) of the Public Supply Contracts Regulations 1995.

Detailed confidential discussions were held with 5 major pharmaceutical companies known to have vaccine manufacturing capability either in the UK or in Europe. Our requirements for the vaccine strain, timing and delivery were made clear to each of the companies, who were then given time to submit their responses.

Glivec

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement about Glivec; [51083]

Yvette Cooper [holding answers 18 April 2002]: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales have asked the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) to appraise Glivec for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia, and to issue guidance on its use to the National Health Service in England and Wales. It is anticipated that NICE will issue guidance in August 2002.

Health Council

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health who attended the health meeting of the EU Council of Ministers on 4 June 2001 on behalf of the UK; and who led the UK delegation. [51036]

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Yvette Cooper [holding answer 16 April 2002]: The UK delegation to the European Union Health Council, held on 6 June 2001, was led by Susan Deacon, Scottish Executive Minister for Health and Community care, with the deputy Ambassador to the UK's Permanent representation to the European Union and appropriate officials.


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