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Health Services: North West Region

Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the setting up of clinical assessment, treatment and support clinics in Lancashire and Cumbria will improve accessibility for patients. (123260)

Clinical assessment, treatment and support services in Cumbria and Lancashire will provide more services closer to patients’ homes and reduce the number of appointments a patient needs to attend before hospital treatment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the need for the clinical assessment, treatment and support scheme in Lancashire and Cumbria was first identified; and how the need was tested and assessed. (123261)

The need for clinical assessment, treatment and support (CATS) services for Cumbria and Lancashire was identified two years ago by the former Cumbria and Lancashire Strategic Health Authority following the success of a similar scheme in Greater Manchester.

It is estimated that across the north-west the number of patients waiting for treatment needs to be reduced from 119,000 to 65,000 in order to achieve the 18-week maximum waiting time from general practitioner referral to treatment by the end of 2008. A combination of pathway reform, demand management and additional activity such as that offered through CATS is required to achieve this reduction in waiting list numbers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) GPs in Lancashire and Cumbria will be able to choose not to refer patients and (b) patients in that area will be able to choose not to go to a clinical assessment, treatment and support service. (123329)

Decisions about where patients are referred for treatment will continue to be made by patients and their general practitioners (GPs). The clinical assessment, treatment and support services in Cumbria and Lancashire will provide an additional referral option for patients and their GPs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much Netcare will be paid over its five- year contract to deliver clinical assessment, treatment and support services in Lancashire and Cumbria. (123331)

No contract has been awarded for clinical assessment, treatment and support services in Cumbria and Lancashire. The commercial terms between the Department and Netcare are still subject to negotiation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what interaction GPs will have with healthcare professionals staffing clinical assessment, treatment and support schemes in Lancashire and Cumbria. (123332)

The Cumbria and Lancashire clinical assessment, treatment and support scheme is an integrated scheme between primary and secondary care. Communication between all health care providers in the local health economy is important to achieving this. Local clinicians have already been engaged with the scheme’s preferred bidder to this end, to achieve an integrated pathway for patients.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) from where staff working in clinical assessment, treatment and support service clinics in Lancashire and Cumbria will be recruited; (123333)

(2) how many staff, and at what grades, will be employed by Netcare in Lancashire and Cumbria to deliver the clinical assessment, treatment and support service contract;

(3) who will draft and agree the protocols under which the staff employed in Lancashire and Cumbria by Netcare will work.

The contract for clinical assessment, treatment and support (CATS) services is still under negotiation. All independent sector health care providers awarded contracts under phase 2 of the Independent Sector Treatment Centre procurement are required to comply with the policy of additionality which exists to ensure the conservation of national health service clinical skills in key professions.

As contract negotiations are still ongoing, precise staff numbers, experience, and skills sets are not finalised. However, it is thought that the scheme could employ approximately 150 whole-time equivalent clinical and non-clinical staff.

An independent sector provider awarded a contract to provide CATS services would be required to produce a workforce strategy, which would set workforce protocols. The protocols would be reviewed and approved by the Department.

The independent sector provider’s workforce policies are required to comply with all applicable and current United Kingdom employment legislation and departmental guidance and to demonstrate workforce best practice. In addition, independent sector providers are required to comply with the provisions of “Safer Recruitment—A Guide for NHS Employers (May 2005)”.