§ Mr. Neil Turner
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS beds were available in Wigan in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Miss Melanie Johnson
The information requested is shown in the table.
within (a) his Department and (b) its agencies; and what method he uses to certify the competence levels achieved by staff receiving training in ICT. 
§ Ms Rosie Winterton
Neither the Department nor its executive agencies have targets for improving the information and communication technology (ICT) skills base of staff.
Staff are encouraged to improve their ICT skills and every major corporate application implementation or upgrade of desktop software packages is accompanied by training opportunities. The Department offers a range of training options: classroom training, at-desk training, computer based training, short seminars and 1383W workshops. Staff are also able to undertake the European computer driving licence, leading to formally recognised qualifications in ICT.
The Department and its agencies are very heavily reliant on ICT for the conduct of their business and, while there is no formal, corporate process for validating staff competence in ICT, staff are assessed, as part of the performance appraisal process, on their ability to undertake their roles effectively. This may include ICT related tasks.
§ Dr. Murrison
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funds will be made available to(a) strategic health authorities and (b) primary care trusts to cover the costs of (i) training clinical staff to use new IT systems as part of the National Programme for IT rollout and (ii) covering for clinical staff while they are training. 
§ Mr. Hutton
Training plans to support the national programme for information technology in the national health service in England (NPfIT) are still evolving, as is to be expected when approaching a phased programme of implementation and roll out of new applications, systems and services.
General IT skills are now an everyday element for any public service and service based organisation, including the NHS, and provision for this will form part of the normal continuing professional and personal development for all NHS staff within existing budgets and training plans. The Europe computer driving licence is helping to improve general skills across the NHS. The move to e-learning and development and the NHS university will both create more demand for computer and online skills and provide more channels and solutions to bring training to people.
As we complete the more detailed plans for each geographical cluster and local service provider contract we will map out the extent of IT support for clinical practice and patient care to support the implementation of the NPfIT. This will generate clearer training requirements and will enable us co consider the most appropriate ways of providing training and development and produce firmer costs. The bids submitted by the service suppliers for the NPfIT include an element for supporting the delivery of training within the NHS.