Questions to the Minister for Health 6.6.02


Neurologists Leaving Wales


Alison Halford:

What action is the Minister taking to counteract the trend of neurologists leaving Wales? (WAQ18193)

Jane Hutt:

Each trust has developed its own recruitment and retention strategy, which takes account of particular local situations. Issues of relevance for the shortage professions, including consultant specialties, are also addressed. The strategies cover key retention initiatives such as flexible working, term-time contracts and career development. An all-Wales recruitment and retention strategy is in preparation and is due to be discussed at a meeting of the Health and Social Services Committee in the summer.
A staff attitude survey was recently sent out to all staff working in the NHS in Wales. The responses are currently being analysed and will help to formulate further policies for tackling any problems of staff dissatisfaction.


Closure of Old Peoples’ Homes (Prevention)


Alison Halford:

What action has the Minister taken to stop the closure of old peoples’ homes in north Wales? (WAQ18191)


The Minister for Health and Social Services (Jane Hutt):

The Welsh Assembly Government’s role is a strategic one in helping to ensure that there is a confident, flexible and viable care home sector for the future and in helping to ensure that viable services are in place to support vulnerable people.I have established a Wales care strategy group to bring all the key interests together to advise me on the future of the care sector as a whole, including residential care, care provided as an adjunct to housing, and domiciliary care. The first full meeting of that group will take place on 12 June and among its early tasks will be to look at the management and direction of change in the care sector, guidance on the commissioning of care, and business and training support for the residential care sector.
In addition, I have provided local authorities with additional funding in the form of special grant totalling £17 million over two years, to reduce avoidable hospital admissions, to help to strengthen the care home sector within the whole system of care, and to help to improve standards.

Parkinson’s DiseaseAlison Halford; What action is the Minister taking to combat Parkinson’s disease in Wales? (WAQ18194)Jane Hutt: The provision of all health services, including those for people with Parkinson’s disease, is the responsibility of local health authorities. Those suffering from Parkinson’s disease are treated by neurologists.The Wales Neurological Alliance has been established to secure improved care for people living in Wales with neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. The alliance brings together all the voluntary organisations representing those with neurological disorders and their carers. It has the support of neurologists and other health professionals and it will provide a very useful vehicle to enable us to work with all interest groups to improve neurological services in Wales.

Ear, Nose and Throat Consultants (Tonsil Instruments)


Alison Halford:

What were the results of your meeting with ear, nose and throat consultants concerning tonsil instruments on the 16 May? (WAQ18220)

Jane Hutt:

The meeting, which took place on 16 May, was between my professional advisers, officials and representative ear, nose and throat surgeons. I was not present. At the meeting it was agreed that advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee—that single use instruments should be used for all non-urgent operations on tonsils, adenoids and lingual tonsils—is still extant and that the aim should be to provide single use instruments to an acceptable standard that minimises post-operative complications. Welsh Health Supplies is currently working with ear, nose and throat surgeons and the manufacturers to achieve this. There will be a time delay in redesigning the instruments, piloting them and building up sufficient stock.For the interim period the Chief Medical Officer is considering the use of new reusable instruments—once only. These instruments would then be decontaminated and quarantined until a long-term solution is identified. Welsh Health Supplies are currently assessing the availability of these instruments, the cost and the time it will take to obtain them.Once all the relevant information has been collated by the CMO I will report further on guidance to be issued to all trusts in Wales and ear, nose and throat surgeons.


Closure of Nursing Homes (Minimising the Effects)

Alison Halford:

What services does the Minister provide to very elderly residents in nursing homes to minimise the trauma and emotional and physical upheaval that follows the closure of their nursing homes? (WAQ18221)

Jane Hutt:

Local authorities have the statutory duty to ensure that appropriate community care services are provided for those people assessed as needing care, including those in residential care.
In the event of a care home closing, or the transfer of residents becoming necessary, the local authority should ensure that all of the residents have a full assessment of their needs, including their mental and physical health requirements, before any alternative placements are made. If moves are agreed, the actual process should be planned carefully so that the needs of each individual are properly addressed.


Tonsil Instruments (Single Use)

Alison Halford:

Why has the Minister decided not to allow the single use of reusable tonsil instruments in all normal/routine tonsil operations? (WAQ18237)

Jane Hutt:

This is a complex issue related to the assessment and management of clinical risk and, as such, is being dealt with by the Chief Medical Officer on my behalf. In her guidance of 11 April 2002 to trusts and ear, nose and throat surgeons in Wales the CMO states:
‘While for the present, we will retain the single-use option only, it is perfectly reasonable, of course, for new re-usables to be used once, for emergencies and then discarded or quarantined until the long-term position is established.’The decision to operate has always been a local clinical decision and will be based on a number of factors.In an attempt to agree a suitable and safe way forward the CMO has entered into discussion with her professional advisers, officials and leading ear, nose and throat surgeons. The most recent meeting took place on 16 May 2002. The outcome of that meeting is detailed in my response to WAQ18220.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.