Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by Drew Hendry
(Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)
Asked on: 01 June 2020
Women and Equalities
Equality: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that people who have been requested to shield during the covid-19 outbreak do not face discrimination in relation to employment retention by their employers.
A
Answered by: Kemi Badenoch
Answered on: 06 August 2020

The Government is actively monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market and will continue to do so.

Any employee who considers that their dismissal was unfair, whether for a reason related to Covid-19 or otherwise, can complain to an employment tribunal, subject to a qualifying period of continuous service of 2 years. Guidance on what constitutes unfair dismissal or pressure to come into work if you are shielding is available from ACAS: Coronavirus: shielding and vulnerable people.

Q
Asked by Bob Blackman
(Harrow East)
Asked on: 04 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Care Homes: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the covid-19 testing of asymptomatic people to residents and staff in (a) extra care facilities, (b) retirement villages and (c) other housing-with-care facilities.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020

We have written to Directors of Public Health to ask them to help us determine which supported living and extra care settings in their areas should be able to access testing based on a risk-based criterion. Retirement villages and other housing-with-care facilities are not currently in scope to be tested. Our testing strategy is based on guidance from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and Public Health England.

Q
Asked by Steve McCabe
(Birmingham, Selly Oak)
Asked on: 08 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Care Homes: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will publish the guidance provided to local authorities on prioritising care home referrals for covid-19 testing.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020

On 5 June Ros Roughton, Director General, Adult Social Care, wrote to Directors of Public Health and Directors of Adult Social Services. The criteria of prioritisation were:

  1. Care homes referred to the Department by Public Health England because they have had a new outbreak;
  2. Care homes that have over 50 beds;
  3. Care homes with 25-50 beds;
  4. And then all other care homes.

Q
Asked by Patrick Grady
(Glasgow North)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 05 June 2020
Women and Equalities
Equality
Commons
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what equality impact assessments have been undertaken on the differential effect of No Recourse to Public Funds in relation to (a) race and (b) other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.
A
Answered by: Kemi Badenoch
Answered on: 06 August 2020

The Home Office reviewed the policy on removing the No Recourse to Public Funds condition in relation to race and other protected characteristics earlier this year. A Policy Equality Statement was published in April and placed on GOV.UK: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/880531/Policy_Equality_Statement__PES__21_April_2020.pdf

Asked on: 10 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Dementia: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what plans, if any, they have to include dementia on the list of illnesses for which someone should shield themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 06 August 2020

Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we knew about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These were signed off by the United Kingdom Senior Clinicians Group, including the four UK Chief Medical Officers and clinical leadership at NHS England and NHS Improvement, NHS Digital and Public Health England. The list of conditions is kept under review and there are no plans at present to add dementia to it.

Q
(York Central)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 16 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Social Distancing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the level of public observance of the two metre guidance on social distancing; and what estimate he has made of the potential level of observance of social distancing guidance if that guidance is reduced to one metre.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020
Holding answer received on 22 June 2020

The Government commissioned a review into the 2m social distancing rule and took advice from a range of experts. We recognise it isn’t always possible to stay 2m away from others all the time in all settings and workplaces, and we have seen a continuous fall in the number of cases, infections and deaths. That’s why, from 4 July, our advice changed to ‘1m plus’ – which is one metre plus mitigations – where people cannot stay 2m apart. The Government expects people to continue to comply with the guidance as set out by the Government and do what is right for their families, the NHS and the community to stay as safe as possible and to avoid a second peak.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produce a regular social survey to help the Government better understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain and who is following the guidance. The latest published survey findings indicate that when meeting up with other people over a half of adults (55%) always maintained social distancing, with just over 1 in 20 (6%) saying they rarely or never maintained social distancing. The full ONS published survey results can be accessed by following this link:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/bulletins/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritain/17july2020#main-points.

Q
(North East Bedfordshire)
Asked on: 17 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Care Homes: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) improve the supply of testing kits to care homes, (b) put in place a system which allows for testing kits to routinely and automatically be provided to care homes at regular intervals; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the current application process for covid-19 tests for a care home.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020

The Department has rolled out whole home testing to all care homes registered on the portal. Since its launch we have been able to provide whole home testing to over 13,500 care homes in England.

On routine testing, we have launched this in care homes from 3 July. From 6 July onwards, we will start to roll out weekly testing of staff and testing of residents every 28 days in all care homes without outbreaks through Pillar 2. Bank, agency and visiting staff such as social workers and Allied Health Professionals working in care homes should be included in the weekly staff tests in care homes.

Q
Asked by Lord Mann
Asked on: 17 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Screening
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people have had an antibody test to test for previous COVID-19 infection; and of those, how many had antibodies.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 06 August 2020

On 21 May the Government announced plans for a national roll-out of antibody testing in the National Health Service and social care sector, where, as of 19 July, over 1.31 million COVID-19 antibody tests have been carried out. Information is provided on GOV.UK in an online only format which explains how these tests are counted. Any additional information regarding the results of the results of the tests will be made available at the appropriate time.

Asked on: 22 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Dental Services: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it was within the Chief Dental Officer for England's remit to instruct all dental practices to cease face to face consultations when the restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic were introduced.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 06 August 2020

NHS England and NHS Improvement published guidance on 25 March 2020 instructing all general dental services and community dental services to suspend routine care and all face to face urgent care, unless delivered through an urgent dental centre. As the commissioner of National Health Service dental services, it is NHS England and NHS Improvement’s responsibility to make decisions on provision of the NHS services it commissions. Decisions are made by NHS England and NHS Improvement as a whole taking into account both clinical and commissioner advice.

Asked on: 25 June 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Contact Tracing: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to reports that over 20 per cent of those traced by the NHS COVID-19 test, track and trace system could not be reached, what plans they have to adjust the system to take into account the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies' advice that the threshold for effectiveness per index case is 80 per cent.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 06 August 2020

The Government launched its NHS Test and Trace service on 28 May 2020 to control the rate of reproduction (R), reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.

The contact tracing process starts as soon as NHS Test and Trace receive notification that someone has tested positive for COVID-19. The NHS Test and Trace service contacts people by text message, email or phone, including sending reminder messages and calls. We are reaching the close contacts of thousands of positive cases, where their contact details are known by the positive index case, and we are encouraged by the progress so far and user feedback.

Data published on 9 July shows that since 28 May, 75.7% (23,796) of people who tested positive (and had their case transferred to NHS Test and Trace) were reached and asked to provide contact details of recent, close contacts. Of the contacts identified through NHS Test and Trace, 85.1% (144,501) were reached and advised to self-isolate. Work is ongoing to understand, evaluate and continuously improve the test and trace programme and its effectiveness.

Q
(Romford)
Asked on: 03 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Special Educational Needs: Visits
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to enable family visitation and contact for people with special educational needs who are in full-time care.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020

Throughout this pandemic it has been our priority to protect care home staff and residents.

We understand the significant challenges visiting limitations place on care homes and the difficulties faced by many families and residents who want to see their loved ones, but the safety of residents must come first. All our guidance is designed with care users in mind, to ensure that individuals are treated with dignity and respect and that their particular needs are addressed.

The Government published guidance for England on visiting care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic on 22 July 2020. This guidance is available on GOV.UK.

Q
(South Shields)
Asked on: 08 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Social Services: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many times the Social Care Taskforce has met; and when the minutes of its meetings will be published.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020

Since being commissioned, the Social Care Taskforce has met on 18 June and 1 July. A third meeting is due to take place on 15 July. A fourth meeting is due to take place on 29 July.

The Department for Health and Social Care shares summaries of topics discussed through regular communications with adult social care stakeholders.

Q
(Leicester South)
Asked on: 08 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Care Homes: Closures
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many care homes have closed since the 2016-17 financial year; and how many beds were lost as a result of those closures.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020

The following tables show how many care homes have closed since 1 April 2016 and the associated number of beds. It is important to note that when a care home closes, the service may continue but under a new registration due to a legal entity change, address change, or a change in the provider. The data obtained from the Care Quality Commission is accurate as of 22 July 2020.

.

Number of Care Home Locations by Deactivation Type

Total Number of Care Home Locations

Financial Year of Deactivation

Location deactivated through enforcement

Location deactivated voluntarily

2016/2017

113

1,379

1,492

2017/2018

98

1,094

1,192

2018/2019

85

916

1,001

2019/2020

69

827

896

2020/2021

24

246

270

Total

389

4,462

4, 851

Number of Beds by Deactivation Type

Total Number of Beds

Financial Year of Deactivation

Location deactivated through enforcement

Location deactivated voluntarily

2016/2017

2,756

40,493

43,249

2017/2018

2,538

30,625

33,163

2018/2019

2,178

22,108

24,286

2019/2020

1,575

21,686

23,261

2020/2021

521

6,950

7,471

Total

9568

121,862

131,430

Q
Asked by Simon Baynes
(Clwyd South)
Asked on: 09 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Mental Health Services: North Wales
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support the mental health of NHS workers in North Wales during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020

Health is a devolved matter so this would be a matter for the Welsh government.

Q
(Bristol East)
Asked on: 09 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Disability: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Care Act easements during the covid-19 outbreak on disabled people in receipt of social care.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020

The Department is working with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and Think Local, Act Personal (TLAP) to understand the impact on individuals, including disabled people, of the changes to Care Act 2014 duties. TLAP and ADASS have engaged local authorities operating under easements to understand what this means for adults with care and support needs. A TLAP Insight Group has been meeting regularly to coordinate intelligence of TLAP partners on the impact and views of people accessing care and support and unpaid carers. These findings will be published at the following link:

https://www.thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk/covid-19/tlap-insight-group/

Q
(Hornsey and Wood Green)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 09 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Autism: Care Homes
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will issue updated guidance to residential homes on caring for autistic adults as covid-19 restrictions are eased.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020
Holding answer received on 14 July 2020

We recognise the particular challenges autistic people and their families are facing at this time, due to the impact of social distancing measures and disruption to their usual activities.

Throughout this pandemic it has been our priority to protect care home staff and residents. All our guidance is designed with care users in mind, to ensure that individuals are treated with dignity and respect and that their particular needs are addressed.

On 19 June, we published our updated guidance for care homes, which includes information on testing for residents and staff, and isolation procedures. On 22 July 2020 the Government published updated guidance on visiting arrangements for care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance is applicable to all nursing and care homes and is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visiting-care-homes-during-coronavirus.

We keep our policies under continuous review based on the emerging international and domestic evidence.

Q
(Worsley and Eccles South)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 10 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Social Services: Badges
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase the supply of CARE badges to social care staff.
A
Answered by: Helen Whately
Answered on: 06 August 2020
Holding answer received on 15 July 2020

Since the Secretary of State’s announcement around 15,000 badges have been distributed at no cost to social care providers or members of the workforce.


To increase supply, additional badges of recognition have been procured by government and we expect to be able to start distribution of these badges shortly. Details of how they will be distributed to people working in social care will be available in due course.

Q
Asked on: 10 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
Prisons: Hepatitis
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that (1) testing, and (2) treatment, for hepatitis C continues in prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 06 August 2020

We recognise that the need to focus on COVID-19 response across prison establishments has had an adverse impact on the number of people in prisons tested and able to access treatment for hepatitis C.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently working proactively with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service partners and other key stakeholders on a programme of restoration and recovery of key services. As Blood Borne Virus testing forms part of the Public Health Section 7a agreement with Public Health England, this work is being prioritised.

It is anticipated a full resumption of the hepatitis C elimination programme will take place from October 2020.

Q
Asked on: 10 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Computer Software
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the most recent contracts between NHS England and (1) Palantir, (2) Faculty, (3) Google, and (4) Amazon, which relate to the NHS COVID-19 Data Store.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 06 August 2020

The contract with Palantir will be published in the usual way in due course. The Faculty contract is being negotiated for extension and the contract will be published in the usual way in due course. NHS England does not own a contract with Google or Amazon regarding the NHS COVID-19 Data Store.

Q
Asked on: 10 July 2020
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS: Computer Software
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to establish an ethics board to oversee the NHS COVID-19 Data Store.
A
Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 06 August 2020

NHS England is the sole controller of data held within the NHS COVID-19 Data Store and for any data legally shared with them under the notice issued by the Secretary of State under the NHS Control of Patient Information (COPI) Regulations 2002. The notices allow permitted organisations, under Regulation 3(3) of the COPI regulations, to process data only for COVID-19 related purposes. The Department has no plans to establish an ethics board for the NHS COVID-19 Data Store.

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