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Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the training arrangements in NHS trusts to ensure that nursing staff are trained to use existing and new medical equipment. [130874]

"Working Together—Learning Together", the framework for lifelong learning, published in November 2001, specifies national health service trust responsibilities for staff education and development and for ensuring that they have clear local procedures to make sure that all staff are trained to operate new and existing medical equipment in a safe and effective way. It states that, "all NHS employer organisations, supported by Workforce Development Confederations will have in place a clear organisational strategy and annual plan for education, training and development which links explicitly with local modernisation priorities and the delivery of clinical governance".The proposed introduction of the knowledge and skills framework through pay modernisation will strengthen the identification of the skills and competencies of nurses to undertake certain work. Similarly, the introduction of the NHS University will also strengthen the availability of learning opportunities.We are investing over £30 million a year in improving continuing professional development infrastructure through workforce development confederations so that health professionals can maintain and improve the standards of care they provide. This will include learning to use new equipment and new techniques as they are introduced.In addition, our care group workforce teams are reviewing the skills and competencies required to implement our priorities to improve the NHS through the national service frameworks. This work will identify the key skills needed in the NHS.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nurse vacancies there are at Southend General Hospital. [130373]

The total number of nurse vacancies at Southend General Hospital is not recorded centrally. However, the number of three-month vacancies for qualified nurses at Southend Hospital National Health Service Trust at 31 March 2003 was 19.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people there are in each of the registered nursing care contribution bands. [130907]

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the availability of (a) defibrillators, (b) ECG machines, (c) portable oxygen and (d) infusion pumps to nursing staff within the NHS. [130876]

No national assessment has been made. All national health service trusts and health authorities in England have access to a national contract for portable oxygen cylinders.Infusion pumps, electro-cardiogram machines and defibrillators are bought at local level by individual trusts.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the extent to which single use medical equipment is re-used within the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [130877]

The Department is funding a research project to establish whether single use instruments are being re-used and, if so, the scale of reuse. This project will guide the Department, the National Patient Safety Agency and the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on whether future guidance is required. Previous research has highlighted the issue of re-using medical devices designated for single use only.