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Overseas Recruitment

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the annual (a) salary and (b) support costs are of his Department's director of international recruitment for health services. [58031]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 21 May 2002]: The director of international recruitment was on detachment from her post as executive nurse director at Hammersmith Hospitals National Health Service Trust. This secondment finished on 30 April 2002. The trust publishes salary details of its senior staff in its annual report. A budget of £154,000 was secured for 2001–02 to fund salaries, travel and support costs to the director.

Epilepsy

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps the Government are taking to ensure that

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epilepsy deaths and SUDEP are reduced as far as possible; [60085]

Jacqui Smith: The Department recently welcomed the national sentinel audit of epilepsy-related death. The Government-funded project reviewed the official records of people who died from an epilepsy-related death in the UK between September 1999 and August 2000. During that period, 2,412 deaths were reported where epilepsy was mentioned on the death certificate.

The audit looked at investigations into epilepsy deaths, care provided prior to death and contact with bereaved families. The audit makes recommendations for improving epilepsy services. The Department has given a

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commitment to consider these and develop an action plan by September 2002 to try to reduce the number of epilepsy-related deaths.

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the Government are doing to address the deficiencies they have identified in the care and management of people with epilepsy. [60083]

Jacqui Smith: The Government are undertaking a range of initiatives to improve services for the care and management of people with epilepsy. For example, we have:


Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to improve the (a) monitoring and (b) prevention of sudden deaths owing to epilepsy. [61341]

Jacqui Smith: The Department has recently welcomed the publication of the Government-funded 'National Sentinel Audit of Epilepsy-Related Death'. The audit looked at investigations into epilepsy deaths, care provided prior to death and contact with bereaved families. The Department has given a commitment to consider the recommendations of the audit and develop an action plan by September 2002 to try to improve epilepsy services and reduce the number of preventable deaths from epilepsy.

The Department is also undertaking a range of initiatives to improve services for the care and management of people with epilepsy. For example, we have:


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Newborn Hearing Screening

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) of 20 July 2001, Official Report, column 738, on neonatal screening, when his Department will make an announcement setting out a timetable for the national implementation of universal newborn hearing screening. [60107]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 10 June 2002]: The newborn hearing screening pilot was the first phase of a national roll-out of the service. The pilot phase has provided important information, about the impact on audiology and other support services, and has provided the data which will enable us to plan a national roll-out to a sensible, feasible time scale ending with full implementation by the end of 2004–05.

Care Homes

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (1) representations the Department has received following the announcement that continence pads would be provided free of charge to all care home residents from October 2001; and if he will make a statement; [60094]

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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funds will be made available for NHS continence services in the period (a) 2003–04, (b) 2004–05 and (c) 2005–06. [60092]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not available as specific budgets of health authorities and primary care trusts for continence services are not determined centrally. They receive unified allocations to cover the costs of hospital and community health services, discretionary funding for general practice staff, premises and computers and primary care prescribing.

The level of funding made available for continence provision is therefore a local decision. It is for health authorities in partnership with primary care groups/trusts and other local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities and modernising services

The details of a transfer of resources from local authorities to cover nursing care/continence from 2003–04 will be the subject of a separate consultation over the summer.

No representations were received about continence payments for self funders.

The £6 million figure was arrived at on the basis that approximately two thirds of the population receiving nursing care in care homes (over 40,000) are incontinent and this figure represents an average cost to the national health service of providing continence services to them.

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what Government funding has been made available in the last 12 months to promote management of continence by (a) constituency and (b) region. [59114]

Jacqui Smith: Information requested relating to funding by constituency and region is not available centrally. Specific budgets of health authorities and primary care trusts for continence services are not determined centrally. They receive unified allocations to cover the costs of hospital and community health services, discretionary funding for general practice staff, premises and computers and primary care prescribing.

£6 million of the £100 million allocated to national health service funded nursing care from 1 October 2001 was for the continence needs of self-funders who had previously had to pay nursing homes for continence services. £12 million will be available to the NHS for this year's 2002–03 full year costs for this group.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the staffing establishment is at the National Care Standards Commission; what the annual costs are of running it; how many nursing and residential homes were inspected by the NCSC in April and May; and if he will make a statement as to the reasons for delays in dealing with applications; [61348]

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Jacqui Smith: The National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) took over responsibility for the regulation of all care homes in England on 1 April 2002, including care homes not previously required to register. The NCSC is responsible for regulating care homes in accordance with national minimum standards to ensure consistency and improve the quality of life and level of protection for the most vulnerable people in society.

The NCSC is currently dealing with a heavy load of applications under the new arrangements and there is some delay in dealing with some applications. The NCSC is taking steps to deal with this and expects the average time for processing applications to reduce as the number of applications comes down to more normal levels.

The NCSC's staffing establishment is 2,352 of which 1,874 staff are currently in post. As this is the NCSC's first year of operation, we have no historical data as yet on actual running costs of the NCSC. However, the NCSC is planning its work for 2002–03 on the basis of a budget of £131 million revenue and £1.5 million capital. The NCSC's programme of inspections was not expected to get fully under way before June 2002 due to factors such as completing office accommodation moves and information technology set-ups, transferring staff, finalising inspector training and giving due notice to providers of the inspections. Nevertheless, from the information currently available, 66 inspections were carried out in April and 612 in May. 2,034 inspections are planned for June.

Application forms for registration are usually sent out by first class post. Information is not available on the times taken to send out packs containing application forms. Requests for packs are responded to within two working days where possible, although some delays have occurred due to a higher than planned volume of demand requiring forms to be reprinted. Information is currently not available on the times taken to inspect nursing and residential homes which have applied for registration, but this will become available later this year.

Details of registration procedures and application forms for nursing and residential care homes are available on the NCSC's website www.carestandards.org.uk

Regulatory fees for care homes increased on 1 April this year. This is the first increase in fees since 1 May 1998. The increase reflects the effects of inflation on the value of fees but also our longer-term aim of moving to full cost recovery. Despite this increase, care homes currently only pay 31 per cent. of the actual cost of registration and inspection. We recognise that fees are not the only extra cost of the new regulatory system to care homes. We are increasing total resources available for social services by an average of six per cent. a year in real terms over the next three years (2003–04 to 2005–06). These increases follow average annual real

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terms increases of more than three per cent. between 1996–97 and 2002–03 including a 3.6 per cent. real terms increase this year (2002–03). These substantial increases in resources, in particular over the next three years, will enable local authorities to deliver the improvements to social services to which the Government are committed. It also means that local authorities have the resources they need to purchase services at realistic prices.

Under the previous regulatory system, care homes were inspected by around 250 local authorities and health authorities each applying its own, sometimes contradictory, local conditions for registration. This system had been criticised over several years for lacking independence, consistency and coherence. The NCSC will, by contrast, inspect care homes using national standards. Due to the large number of different standards set under the previous regulatory system, I cannot say in detail how national standards may differ from them. This will vary from area to area. However, national standards were widely consulted on and the finalised standards were set at a level already being met or exceeded by many providers and which others should be able to meet over time.


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