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Medical Students

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on incentive schemes that are (a) in place and (b) planned to encourage the study of medicine by students. [54581]

Mr. Hutton: The study of medicine continues to be a very popular option among university applicants offering as it does the opportunity of a challenging, worthwhile and highly esteemed career within a huge range of possible job opportunities. Universities and colleges

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admissions services data are showing that home applications have increased by almost 17 per cent. in the current application cycle.

In recognition of the longer length of medical training courses and the need to guarantee the increased future supply of medical staff, the Government have already introduced special financial support arrangements for undergraduate medical students. English domiciled pre-registration medical students who joined their courses from 1 September 1998 onwards, qualify for NHS bursaries in their fifth and subsequent years of study. NHS bursaries are also available to English-domiciled students undertaking the new four-year graduate-entry medical courses. These students qualify for NHS-funded support in years two to four of the course.

Medical and dental students receive the same package of support as other health professional students studying at degree level and are therefore eligible for a means tested NHS bursary of up to £2,640 for students studying in London (rate for academic year 2002–03), supplemented by a non-means tested reduced rate student loan. In addition all NHS-funded students have their liability for a tuition fee contribution (£1,100 for academic year 2002–03) met in full, and without means testing. Additional allowances are available for older students, individuals with disabilities, single parents and others with dependants, and also to take account of the longer academic year attended by health professional students.

During the first four years of the undergraduate medical course, students are supported under the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) student support regulations. On 3 October my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Estelle Morris) announced her Department's plans for a fundamental review of mainstream student support arrangements. The Department will be working with DfES to ensure the needs of medical students are taken fully into account in the design of any new arrangements.


Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Ashford of 10 April 2001, 16 July 2001 and 17 December 2001, on Ehlers Dantos Syndrome. [55069]

Jacqui Smith: The Department had been unable to trace the hon. Member's letters. Duplicates were requested and a reply was sent on 10 May.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letter of 28 January concerning Mr. Wong of Chelmsford from the hon. Member for West Chelmsford. [54678]

Ms Blears [holding answer 9 May 2002]: The Department has no record of receiving this correspondence. The hon. Member's office has been asked to supply a duplicate.

Social Services

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate his Department has made of (a) the cost to (i) local authority social services and (ii) North

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Yorkshire county council social services, of the proposed bed blocking fines and new NI rates and (b) the increase in funding for social services for (i) and (ii). [55028]

Jacqui Smith: None. The new approach is about putting in place the right incentives to ensure that people are able to leave hospital as soon as treatment is completed and it is safe for them to do so. Councils that meet their responsibilities in reducing delayed discharges will not be disadvantaged. We will consult on the details of the scheme in due course.

Digital Hearing Aids

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will give priority in the provision of digital hearing aids to former service men whose hearing was damaged during the course of their service duties as defined by the War Pensions Agency. [54460]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 9 May 2002]: National health service hospitals should ensure that they give priority to war pensioners, both as in-patients and as out-patients, for examination or treatment relating to the condition for which the patient receives a pension or received a gratuity (unless there is an emergency case or another case demands clinical priority).


Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of rheumatologists per head of population. [55274]

Mr. Hutton: Since 1999, the number of consultant rheumatologists has increased from 371 to 411, an increase of 11 per cent.

The requested information is shown in the table. The standard ratio used in the Department is per 100,000 of the population and these data have also been provided.

Hospital, medical staff within the rheumatology specialty—England at 30 September 2001

NumberPer head of populationPer 100,000 population
All staff9000.01.8
of which


Department of Health 2001 medical and dental work force census.

Bed Blocking

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many beds are blocked in Surrey hospitals because patients cannot be discharged; and what the average cost is per bed per day of these blocked beds. [55035]

Ms Blears [holding answer 9 May 2002]: Quarterly information on delayed discharges, by health authority, has been placed in the Library. The most recent figures available are for quarter 3 of 2001–02.

The cost to national health service trusts resulting from delayed transfers of care is management information and, as such, is not collected centrally.

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Hospital Discharges (Elderly People)

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what power local authorities will have over hospital discharges when the penalty system on local authorities for delays in discharging elderly people from hospitals is in place; [55591]

Jacqui Smith: Before the Budget, Departments had a wide range of discussions with Treasury. Councils will need to use the resources announced in the Budget to ensure that people are able to leave hospital once their treatment is completed. If they are successful in that they will have the freedom to use these resources to invest in social care services.

We will consult on the details of the scheme in due course.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to set targets for the reduction in delayed discharges of elderly patients from hospitals for each local authority. [55593]

Jacqui Smith: The current target is for a continued reduction in the number of delayed discharges from hospitals so that there will be 20 per cent. fewer blocked beds in March 2003 compared to March 2002.

Mental Health

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the funding by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight health authority of proposed crisis and home treatment services for the mentally ill in 2002–03; [55636]

Jacqui Smith: At this time discussions on the service and financial framework for Hampshire and Isle of Wight health authority are still on-going. I can assure the hon. Member that the importance of providing appropriate mental health services for the local people who need them is fully recognised by both the Department and the local health authority.

It is for local health authorities in partnership with primary care trusts to determine how resources are used to provide the greatest benefits for patients. For that reason no guidance has been issued on the funding of specific mental health services. From 2002–03 it will be

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possible to identify precisely how the earmarked allocations, including those for mental health services, are being spent.

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