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Ward Matrons

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if all hospitals in England (a) had in 2001–02 and (b) have for 2002–03 in place senior sisters or modern matrons with a ward environment budget of over £5,000. [55269]

Mr. Hutton: Ward environment budgets were introduced on 1 October 2000. In 2001–02 each budget was to be worth be worth a minimum of £5,000 and placed under the direct control of a ward sister or charge nurse. The budget can be spent on whatever the ward sisters and charge nurses that manage the ward consider will best enhance and humanise patient care.

It is the responsibility of each trust to allocate ward environment budgets, worth a minimum of £5,000. Trusts also have the freedom to create larger budgets for some or all of their wards.

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Primary Care Premises

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer, of 2 May 2002, Official Report, column 1003W, on primary care premises, how many separate premises were improved since March 1999. [55406]

Mr. Hutton: Data on refurbished premises only has been collected since April 2000 and 640 were reported in health authority returns up to December 2001.

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Nurses (Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells)

Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) nurse vacancies there were in and (b) nurses left the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in each of the last three years; and what was the average level of absenteeism in each of these years. [55178]

Ms Blears: Figures on vacancy rates are only available centrally up to 2001. Information for the years 1999–2001 is given as follows:

Department of health vacancies survey vacancies in the specified trusts, for nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff three month vacancy rates(35),(36) and numbers(37)

1999 2000 2001
3 month vacancy rates (percentage)3 month vacancies3 month vacancy rates (percentage)3 month vacancies3 month vacancy rates (percentage)3 month vacancies
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust5.170
Kent and Sussex Weald NHS Trust0.003.120
Mid Kent Healthcare NHS Trust0.004.940


1. Three month vacancies are vacancies as at 31 March 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 previous September non-medical workforce census (whole time equivalent)

3. Vacancy numbers are rounded to the nearest ten.

4. Percentages are rounded to one decimal place.

5. Totals may not equal sum of component parts due to rounding.

6. Kent & Sussex Weald NHS Trust and Mid Kent Healthcare NHS Trust merged in April 2000 to become Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

7. Not applicable


Department of Health Vacancies Survey

Department of Health non-medical workforce census

As stated above Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells National Health Service Trust was formed from the merger of Kent and Sussex Weald and Mid Kent Healthcare NHS Trusts in April 2000. For 1999 Mid Kent Healthcare reported a sickness absence rate of 4.68 per cent. Kent and Sussex Weald did not return data. In 2000 Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells reported a sickness absence rate of 5.3 per cent. for the calendar year. Figures for 2001 are not yet available.

NHS Staff (Religion)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will collect statistics on the religious affiliation of staff employed in the NHS with special reference to Muslim women in the work force; and if he will make a statement. [55439]

Mr. Hutton: The Department does not collect these data centrally and there are no plans to do so. Ministers are, however, concerned about the treatment of staff as a result of their religion or belief and through the "Positively Diverse" programme are engaged in a service-wide initiative to look at how local employers can best ensure that their work force reflects the communities they serve.

Progress is being supported by local target setting to increase the representation of people from black and minority ethnic communities, in those sections of the work force were they are currently under-represented.


Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what further plans he has to help sufferers of arthritis. [55273]

Ms Blears: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued its guidance on 22 March 2002 which recommended the use of etanercept for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and etanercept and infliximab for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

On 5 December 2001, the Government announced that they would meet their manifesto commitment to ensure that patients receive drugs and treatments recommended by NICE on the national health service if deemed appropriate by their clinicians. Directions have been issued obliging health authorities and primary care trusts to provide appropriate funding for recommended treatments.

People with arthritis will benefit from the emerging expert patients programme which will see the NHS provide training in self-management skills for people with

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long term chronic conditions. The first pilot phase has recently begun in selected primary care trust sites, with activity to take place both on a generic and a disease- specific basis. Also, the Medical Research Council and the Department's policy research programme is funding major research projects into arthritis.

Orthopaedic Surgery

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to reduce the waiting times for operations for people in need of orthopaedic surgery. [55272]

Mr. Hutton: The NHS Plan sets out the progress we want to make on waiting over the coming years. Each year maximum waiting times will fall so that, by the end of 2005, the maximum in-patient waiting time will be cut to six months and the maximum out-patient waiting time for a first outpatient appointment will be cut to three months. Urgent cases will continue to be treated much faster. All patients will benefit from shorter waiting times as maximum waiting times reduce in the years leading up to 2005.

As a step towards achieving the NHS Plan targets from 1 April 2002 the maximum waiting time for in-patients has been cut from 18 to 15 months and a new maximum waiting time of six months has been established for patients waiting for their first out-patient appointments with a consultant.

The "Action On" programmes have been established by the Government as part of the modernisation of the NHS. They are led by the National Patients' Access Team (NPAT). Their aim is to significantly encourage and disseminate best practice, improve access to care and to reduce variations in waiting times in the four areas with the longest waiting times: cataracts; orthopaedics; ear, nose and throat; and dermatology. Local services are helped to identify their constraints and to find effective solutions.

Mental Health

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what new proposals and additional resources he plans to allocate to deal with mental ill health and (a) drug use, (b) ethnic minority communities and (c) children and youth; and if he will make a statement. [55804]

Jacqui Smith: The mental health national service framework (NSF), published 1999, is a 10-year programme which sets out national standards for mental health. The NHS Plan built on the NSF and provided over £329 million by 2004 to fast forward the NSF and deliver our NHS Plan commitments. Plans for mental ill health are:

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Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the increased spending earmarked for mental health has been allocated in the current year. [55628]

Jacqui Smith: The increased funding of £75 million allocated to health authorities in 2002–03, earmarked for mental health, was allocated with baseline health authority allocations. A detailed description how health authority allocations are calculated can be found in the health service circular ref: HSC 2001–024 Health Authority Revenue resource 2002–03.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 29 April 2002, Official Report, column 622W, on mental health, if he will make a statement on the range of initiatives being introduced to address issues of inequalities in access to mental health services for people from Asian, black and minority ethnic groups with special reference to how such initiatives are being developed and implemented; and where and when professionals and members of the public can learn more. [55999]

Jacqui Smith: Addressing inequalities in access for minority ethnic groups is recognised as a crucial issue for mental health services. Consultation documents on the black and minority ethnic mental health and women's mental health strategies will be published later this year.

Following publication of these documents, the Department will be consulting with a wide range of key stakeholders, including service users and carers and representative organisations, to develop final implementation strategies.

The strategies will be placed on the Department's website when published.

Also, to assist implementation of mental health policy the National Institute for Mental Health for England (NIMHE) will develop targeted programmes aimed at assisting change within service and improving access to services. NIMHE will disseminate good practice and create and share developing evidence through its research development centres.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many of the primary care mental health workers he intends to recruit will work in children's and adolescents' services; and if he will make a statement setting out his plans for the recruitment of extra primary care mental health workers for children and adolescents [56323]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 14 May 2002]: The NHS Plan said that by 2004 "one thousand new graduate primary care mental health workers trained in brief therapy techniques of proven effectiveness will be employed to help general practitioners manage and treat common mental health problems in all age groups, including children". Additional financial resources for their appointment are planned for next year. This year we are concentrating on the establishment of training programmes to support them.

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Last year the NHS Modernisation Fund allocated £5 million of targeted funding to improve child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) at primary care level (which could include the recruitment of primary care mental health workers) in accordance with the national CAMHS development strategy. Preliminary results from Departmentally-commissioned research into CAMHS in Primary Care indicate that one third of provider trusts have already developed primary mental health worker posts and one quarter had plans to do so.

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