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Free Eye Tests

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many free eye tests have been given to pensioners in each quarter since the scheme was launched; and if he will make a statement. [65584]

Mr. Lammy: Eligibility to national health service sight tests was extended to those aged 60 and over from 1 April 1999. The table shows the number of NHS sight tests paid for by health authorities in England from 1999–2000 for those aged 60 and over.


Number of sight tests for over-60s(16)
April 1999 to September 19991.51
October 1999 to March 20001.79
April 2000 to September 20001.87
October 2000 to March 20011.88
April 2001 to September 20012.01

(16) Figures for England

2 Jul 2002 : Column 310W


Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures the Government have taken to improve nurses' pay and conditions of service since 1997. [65821]

Mr. Hutton: We have accepted in full and implemented the recommendations of the independent pay review body for nursing staff for the last four years without staging pay awards. From April 2002 all nursing staff will have received an above inflation increase of at least 3.6 per cent.

Pay has increased across the board for all nurses employed in the national health service by at least 26 per cent. in cash terms since 1997.

The introduction of nurse consultant posts has extended career opportunities for senior nurses who wish to remain in clinical roles and provided the opportunity to earn salaries of over £46,000.

We are working with unions, professional organisations and employers to introduce a new pay system that will offer nurses and other staff working in the NHS a more attractive career structure, fairer pay and consistent conditions of service.

The development of a child care strategy is a key element in improving working lives for staff in the NHS and plays a key role in the recruitment and retention of staff. Our child care strategy centres on providing good quality, accessible and affordable child care. The main focus of the strategy currently is the development of around 150 on-site nurseries with subsidised places. Funding available from April 2001 amounts to over £70 million. Around a further 7,500 places will be created by 2004.

Care Homes

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 24 June 2002, Official Report, column 733W, on care homes, when he is planning to issue guidance on qualified nursing input. [66145]

Jacqui Smith: The Department has commissioned the residential forum to produce further guidance on nurse staffing. Work on this is under way and due to be completed over the summer.

Rubella Vaccines

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what instructions the Department has given to Farillon on the amount of single rubella vaccines to be issued to private clinics in the UK. [66257]

Ms Blears: The Department has a contract with GlaxoSmithKline to supply a fixed quantity of single vaccines for national health service use per year. These vaccines are owned by the Department. We use a private company (Farillon Ltd.) to store and distribute these vaccines to ensure that NHS needs are met. Any excess or remainder stock is made available for sale to private customers.

We have instructed Farillon to manage orders so that the excess of vaccine stock is available equitably to all private clinics.

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National School Fruit Scheme

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of apples and pears supplied to the pilots for the national school fruit scheme in (a) autumn 2000 and (b) autumn 2001 were of UK origin; and if he will list the other countries of origin of the apples and pears. [57167]

Jacqui Smith [pursuant to her reply, 11 June 2002, c. 1215W]: I regret that my previous reply was incorrect. It should read:

2 Jul 2002 : Column 312W

In Autumn 2000 all apples and pears supplied to the original national school fruit scheme pilots were from the United Kingdom.

We do not have comprehensive data on the origin of fruit in the much larger number of pilot sites in autumn 2001. We did not begin to collect such data until the regional expansion of the national school fruit scheme that started in April 2002, since when nationally contracted suppliers have routinely been providing detailed information on the origin of fruit.