§ Mr. Love
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many NHS senior medical practitioners are currently suspended from duty on full pay; what the cost of this is to the NHS; what action the Government are taking to reduce the cost of such suspensions; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) for what reasons when a senior medical practitioner is suspended for reasons unconnected with his or her clinical practice, he or she cannot continue with their clinical practice; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Milburn
Information on the number of hospital and community medical and hospital dental staff suspended is collected centrally only for those cases lasting more than six months. The last quarterly report, ending 30 September 1998, indicated that there are currently 14 cases of suspension which remain unresolved. Total costs incurred to date for these fourteen cases amount to £557,886.308W
The procedures take too long and cost too much. On 27 October 1998 I ordered a review of the suspension procedures with the aim of speeding them up.
Decisions on the need to suspend a medical or dental practitioner are a matter for the National Health Service employer to take. Suspension may be considered when a member of staff needs to be immediately removed from the employing body's premises to protect the interests of patients, other staff, or the practitioner, and/or to assist in the investigative process.