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Truancy (Surrey)

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the truancy figures are for secondary schools in Surrey for each year since 1997; and how many (a) prosecutions and (b) convictions for non-attendance at these schools there have been since 1997. [54325]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Unauthorised absence for maintained secondary schools in Surrey is as follows:

Percentage of half days missed due to unauthorised absences


As part of their local public service agreement, agreed with the Government in April 2001, Surrey local authority have chosen to have a target to reduce the percentage of half days missed due to unauthorised absence in primary and secondary schools.

Information on prosecutions brought under Education Act 1996, section 444 "failing to secure regular attendance at school", will be available for the first time in 'Criminal Statistics for England and Wales 2001' which will be published by the Home Office in September of this year. This section of the Act has only come on to the criminal statistics code book for 2001; previously it was grouped within all prosecutions under the Education Act 1996 and it is not possible to separate the different sections of the Act.

Selection (Schools)

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment she has made of the relative performance of non-selective schools in areas with grammar schools, by comparison with comprehensives. [54893]

Mr. Timms: None. An assessment carried out two years ago comparing the performance at GCSE of pupils at grammar schools and their equivalent ability cohort in comprehensive schools showed a modest advantage to the latter.

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10. Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with the (a) Royal College of Surgeons, (b) BMA and (c) Royal College of Nursing over pay; and if he will make a statement. [52781]

Mr. Hutton: The Department of Health is currently negotiating new contracts for consultants and other NHS staff involving the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing. A framework agreement for the new General Medical Services contract was negotiated between the NHS Confederation and the BMA's GP Committee and was published for consultation on 19 April 2002.

NHS Consultants

11. Mr. Lyons: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many consultants were working in the NHS in 1997; and what the latest available figure is. [52782]

Yvette Cooper: In 1997, there were 21,370 consultants working in the national health service. The latest census figures (September 2001) show that there are now 25,690 working in the NHS, an increase of 20 per cent.


12. Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many incidents of sexual abuse and harassment have been reported since the NHS guidance "Safety, privacy and dignity in mental health units" was issued in June 2000. [52783]

Jacqui Smith: The Department does not hold this information centrally, but in line with the Department's guidance issued in June 2000, there should be monitoring and recording of all incidents of violence or threatening behaviour at trust level and the board will monitor all complaints to enable identification of problems relating to the safety and dignity of patients.

Patient Lists

13. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the right of GPs to remove patients from their list. [52784]

Mr. Hutton: General practitioners have the right to remove patients from their list but in so doing they should comply with the guidance provided by the General Medical Council. Patients should be removed only as a last resort and GPs should as far as possible give reasons for the removal. Changes to the procedures for removing patients from GP lists are being renegotiated as part of the new contract for GPs.

Child Protection

15. Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals are in place to develop the roles of Area Child Protection Committees. [52786]

Jacqui Smith: The role of Area Child Protection Committees (ACPCs) is set out in Government guidance, "Working Together to Safeguard Children" published in December 1999. We are aware that the Victoria Climbie

7 May 2002 : Column 95W

Inquiry is discussing the role of ACPCs as part of phase two of the inquiry and we await the report of the inquiry, later this year, with interest.

Anti-smoking Measures

16. Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to promote the use of laser therapy to assist smoking cessation. [52787]

Yvette Cooper: This Government are committed to promoting effective interventions that are proven to help people stop smoking. At present we are not aware of robust scientific evidence which shows that laser therapy helps people to quit.

NHS Management

17. Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will reduce the number of management priorities set for the NHS. [52788]

Mr. Hutton: Yes. The Planning and Priorities Framework issued for 2002–03 contained a reduced number of priorities compared with previous years.

NHS Staff

18. Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he will take to increase recruitment and retention of NHS staff. [52789]

Yvette Cooper: The Government are implementing a range of measures to improve recruitment and retention of all staff. These include improved pay, support for flexible working and child care, increasing training commissions and reducing student attrition. This work is being supported by national and local recruitment and return to practice campaigns.

21. Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to encourage more people to become nurses and doctors. [52792]

Mr. Hutton: Annual national recruitment campaigns have succeeded in raising the profile of careers in the NHS and promote the NHS as an employer of choice.

Trusts and Workforce Development Confederations build on national advertisement material targeting people of all ages.

NHS careers provides information on careers and flexible entry routes.


19. Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on dispensing fees for pharmacists. [52790]

Ms Blears: The current basic dispensing fee is 94.6 pence per prescription item.

Residential Homes

20. Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many beds for elderly people there were in residential homes in (a) May 1997 and (b) April 2002. [52791]

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Jacqui Smith: On 31 March 1997 there were some 261,600 places for older people in residential care homes. The number of places on 31 March 2001 was 260,100, a reduction of 0.5 per cent.


22. Paul Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the availability of recombinant treatment to adults with haemophilia. [52793]

Yvette Cooper: Recombinant clotting factors are provided in England for new haemophilia patients and children under 16 (from April 1998). The United Kingdom Haemophilia Centre Doctor's Organisation has advised that recombinant clotting factors are available to those who are eligible to receive them.

Small Pharmacies Scheme

23. Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on future funding levels for the essential small pharmacies scheme. [52794]

Ms Blears: The Essential Small Pharmacy Scheme supports pharmacies providing NHS pharmaceutical services in areas which might otherwise not be well served. We review regularly the terms and conditions and levels of allowances for the Scheme.

Looked-after Children

24. Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the Government plan to ensure more stability for looked-after children. [52795]

Jacqui Smith: Improving placement stability will be achieved by better assessment of need using the Government guidance "Framework for Assessment of Children In Need and their Families", and by placing children in appropriate well-supported placements.

In addition to the current work to maximise permanence through adoption, the Government is now carrying out 'Choice Protects', a review of commissioning placements and fostering services. This review aims to help councils deliver improved services for their looked after children.

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