(2) if he will make a statement on how the proposed changes under the Transforming Community Equipment and Wheelchair Services Programme will affect the staff members currently employed by the NHS who issue equipment under section 31 agreements;
(3) when he will report on the progress of the new delivery system of community equipment trial launched in the North West of England in October 2007;
(4) what the minimum competency level is for an approved or accredited retailer's staff, as mentioned in the outline model for the Community Equipment Programme.
[holding answer 9 January 2008]: A collaborative process to develop an outline model for delivery of wheelchair services (similar to that undertaken for community equipment services) was undertaken in 2007 and two potential models were developed. The business case to support the recommended way forward is currently being finalised.
It is a matter for each local authority and health partnership to decide whether the transforming community equipment and wheelchair services programme (TCEWS) retail market is the right solution for their locality. They will need to assess the impact on their employees as part of their decision making process.
The minimum competency levels for accredited retailers have been drafted by the working group developing the regulatory function and will be finalised in April. For further information, copies of the British Health Trades Association/National Association of Equipment Providers Newsletter, have been placed in the Library.
The TCEWS programme will be evaluating the testing of the retail model in the North West. This evaluation will be published as a report in the spring and will include the results of user views on the new model of service delivery.