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Private Health Care

Volume 408: debated on Thursday 3 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent undertakings have been given to the Government of South Africa about the recruitment of health staff; how many South African health care companies have been asked to tender for private contracts for the provision of care to NHS patients; and what restrictions the British Government intend to impose on the South African staff working for such companies. [121457]

A code of practice for national health service employers recruiting from overseas was published in 2001 and sets out standards for international recruitment, including the need to protect the needs of developing countries such as South Africa and to only work with those countries which have formal agreements in place with the Department of Health to recruit healthcare professionals.The Department's agreement with the South African Health Ministry on the recruitment of overseas clinical teams is on the basis that only private sector providers will be considered. The agreement is on the assumption that clinicians cone to the United Kingdom for a maximum of six weeks per year on a rotational basis; this is designed to aid to the long-term retention of staff in the South African healthcare system.A total of 14 South African companies have been asked to tender for contracts to provide overseas clinical teams in the UK. Contracts have been awarded to South African companies at Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust, North West London Hospitals NHS Trust and Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals NHS Trust.In addition, two South African healthcare companies are included in the list of qualifying bidders preparing tenders for independent sector diagnosis and treatment centres contracts and we have assurances from both companies that, if selected, they will abide by the NHS code of practice for international recruitment.