§ Mr. Denham
Occupational health services are of major importance to the National Health Service. 99 per cent. of NHS workers in the acute sector have access to some form of occupational health, the extent and the quality of which varies greatly from region to region. As part of the improving working lives initiative, service delivery standards will shortly be introduced to trusts and health authorities.
To date there is no provision for occupational health for the primary care sector. However, £21 million over the next three years will be invested in occupational health for general medical practitioners and their staff.
§ Mr. Denham
We have today published draft orders under the Health Act 1999 containing provisions to set up a new Nursing and Midwifery Council and a new Health Professions Council. These will replace the existing United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting and the four national Boards, and the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine. The orders will be published for three months before debate in Parliament. A period of consultation will last until 1 June 2001. Copies of bah draft orders will be placed in the Library.
Appointments to the shadow Nursing and Midwifery Council and Health Professions Council are under way. These appointment; should be made in early April for the shadow Councils to start work as soon as possible afterwards. The shadow Councils will have the status of advisory groups until the new Councils are statutorily established in April 2002.