§ Jacqui Smith
The "Fit for the Future?" consultation exercise finished on 21 January 2000 and the finalised National Minimum Standards for Care Homes for Older People were published on 2 March this year. These standards were extensively consulted on and my hon. Friend the Minister of State met with providers and their representatives on several occasions to discuss the proposals, in addition to the meetings and correspondence dealt with by officials.
In setting these standards we listened to the concerns of providers and produced a sensible set of standards that give providers a reasonable time to adapt, and achieved the support of national organisations representing consumers and providers. We made a number of specific changes to the proposed standards in response to the concerns raised in the comments we received. I am confident that these decisions will ensure that any improvements in the quality of care homes necessary will be achieved smoothly, and that stability in the care homes sector and sufficient capacity is maintained while changes are made.
§ Jacqui Smith
Around 1,500 residential care homes for adults and 360 private nursing homes, hospitals and clinics in England closed during the period 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000. However, it should be noted that during the same period, there were around 1,900 new registrations of residential care homes and 350 of nursing care homes. Information is not available centrally on the number of care places associated with closures or new registrations. Details of closures or new registrations by local and health authority area are available in the report entitled 'Activity, workload and resources of local authority, health authority and joint inspection units: summary results of a survey in England 1999ߝ2000' which was published on the internet at http://www.doh.gov.uk/public/regandinspect2.htm.