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12 Jan 2004 : Column 596Wcontinued
(3) how many special baby care and neonatal intensive care nurses were registered in 200203 in (a) England and (b) Wales. 
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, (1) if he will list for each (a) strategic health authority and (b) primary care trust the number of consultants in communicable diseases in each year since 1996; 
Information relating to the number of consultants in public health medicine and microbiology and virology in each strategic health authority and primary care trust since 1996 has been placed in the Library.
Vacancy data has only been collected by the Department since 1999. Between 1999 and 2001, only a limited number of specialties were collected. 2002 is the first year when a significant number of key specialties were individually collected. Available data has been placed in the Library.
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Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will investigate the circumstances relating to the decision of Doctors Leighton, Williams, Khraishi and Ghannam to close their branch surgery in South Road, South Ockendon, Essex; and if he will make a statement on the ability of the Thurrock Primary Care Trust to facilitate a relocation of patients to other doctors within the time frame dictated by the doctors' decision to close their branch practice; 
(3) if he will investigate the circumstances relating to the decision of Doctors Leighton, Williams, Khraishi and Ghannam to close their branch surgery in South Road, South Ockendon, Essex in relation to the method of selecting patients no longer to be served by the practice. 
Dr. Ladyman: I have no plans to investigate the circumstances relating to the decision of Doctors Leighton, Williams, Khraishi and Ghannam to close their branch surgery in South Road, South Ockendon, Essex.
The Government's policy of 'Shifting the Balance of Power' means that the configuration of local services is a matter for the local national health service, working in partnership with its local community.
I am informed by Essex Strategic Health Authority that Doctor Leighton and Partners advised 180 patients during mid December 2003 that they intended to close the South Road Branch Surgery in South Ockendon, during February 2004, and invited those 180 patients to find another general practitioner (GP) by 19 January 2004. This complies with the requirement outlined in the regulations for the practice to give 30 days notice of their intention to remove any patients from their list.
The patients that Thurrock PCT has selected for relocation to alternative GP practices, are those who live the furthest distance from the main surgery in Aveley. These patients are located at the far north of the South Ockendon area and north of the branch surgery in South Road. The period of notice given to individual patients was given in writing by the PCT in a letter dated 28 December 2003.
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I am advised via Essex SHA that Thurrock PCT has worked with both this practice and the local medical committee to consider possible alternatives in order to avoid the closure of the branch surgery. Thurrock PCT wrote to the patients on 28 December 2003 advising them of the impending closure of the branch surgery which detailed information and advice on the support available to them in registering with a new practice.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what national guidelines or constraints apply to general practitioners in relation to the ratio of doctors to patients; whether these were exceeded by the practice of Doctors Leighton, Williams, Khraishi and Ghannam prior to their decision to close their branch surgery in South Road, South Ockendon, Essex; and if he will list those alternative general practitioners within the vicinity who have vacancies on their patients' list, stating in each case the number of new patients he or she is permitted to admit to his or her list. 
(b) 4,500 for a doctor carrying on practice in partnership, subject to a maximum average of 3,500 for each of the partners in the practice,
The new general medical services (GMS) contract will mean that patients will register with a practice rather than with an individual practitioner. In order that practices are not constrained in terms of growth, the list maxima currently applied under regulation 24 of the 1992 Regulations will no longer be continued under the new statutory provisions implementing the new GMS contract.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients the general practice of Doctors Leighton, Williams, Khraishi and Ghannam had in November 2003; and how many it is proposed they will have in February 2004 following the planned closure of their branch surgery. 
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people aged 15 to 24 started drug treatment episodes in each year since 1990, broken down by socio-economic group in (a) England and (b) each region. 
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Miss Melanie Johnson: Information on the number of drug users in the 15 to 24 year old age group presenting for drug treatment in England and by region is available in the Library and on the Department's web-site as detailed below. Information on the socio-economic group of clients starting drug treatment is not collected centrally.
National figures, from drug misuse agencies and general practitioners in England, for each six month period from 1993 to 2001 were published in the Department's Statistical Bulletin series, Drug Misuse Statistics 1993 to 1997 and Statistics from the Regional Drug Misuse Databases 1998 to 2001. These are available at http://www.doh.gov.uk/public/work public health.htm_sdd
Ann Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) nursing and (b) auxiliary staff are adequately trained to identify and deal with elder abuse in (i) the home and (ii) nursing and residential care. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Government is fully committed to ensuring the provision of an adequately trained workforce to provide care for all vulnerable adults in social care settings, including care homes with nursing on the premises. The Department's No Secrets guidance has required all local councils and partner agencies to establish effective multi-agency codes of practice to protect vulnerable adults from abuse. A key element of this guidance concerns the training of staff. The guidance states that agencies should provide training for staff and volunteers on the policy, procedures and professional practices that are in the place locally, commensurate with their responsibilities in the adult protection process.
In addition, the Department's National Minimum Standards for care homes and domiciliary care, used by the National Care Standards Commission to regulate social care for older people and other vulnerable adults has a number of requirements concerning abuse. These include, protecting service users from abuse, ensuring adequate staff training, and the employment of staff in accordance with the code of practice set by the General Social Care Council, which includes advice to challenge and report and behaviour or practice that could lead to abuse.
Finally, all registered nurses are bound by the Nursing and Midwifery Council's code of professional conduct, which makes explicit the responsibility of registered nurses in ensuring that they protect the public through professional standards.
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