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Sleep Disorders

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which health authorities in England make provision for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders; and if he will make a statement. [18417]

Mr. Burns: Sleep disturbance most commonly arises as a result of mental illness such as anxiety and depression. All health authorities will provide a spectrum of treatment ranging from general, primary and care-led, to specialist services.

Behaviourally Disturbed Young People (Prescriptions)

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which officials of (a) his Department and (b) the chief medical officer's office attended the meeting arranged in London on 27 January under the auspices of the British Association for Psychopharmacology regarding prescription of medicine for behaviourally disturbed young people; and if he will make a statement. [18488]

Mr. Burns: Officials were not available to attend the meeting, but they will consider reports when available.

Bug Busting Programme

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the (a) current and (b) future level of funding of the bug busting programme. [18561]

Mr. Horam: The bug busting programme, which is run by the voluntary organisation Community Hygiene Concern, has a three-year project grant of £25,000 a year from the Department of Health under the section 64 general scheme; 1997-98 is the third year. Any application to renew funding will be carefully considered.

NHS Employees' Pay

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS employees currently earn less than £4 an hour. [18734]

Mr. Malone: The information requested is not available centrally.

Speech and Language Therapy

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the level of expenditure by each health authority in England for speech and language therapy services for children (a) with and (b) without a record of needs in each year between 1992 and 1996. [18711]

Mr. Burns: The information requested is not centrally available.

NHS Trusts (Chief Executives)

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many chief executives and senior managers

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of (a) NHS trusts and (b) health authorities have been dismissed in each of the last three years; and how many have retired before the normal retirement age. [18714]

Mr. Malone: The information requested is not available centrally.

Ashworth Special Hospital

Mr. Thurnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations have been made to him concerning the number of patients at Ashworth special hospital who might more suitably be treated elsewhere; what is his estimate of the number; and if he will make a statement concerning all three special hospitals in this respect. [18974]

Mr. Burns: The Reed report of 1994 relating to high secure provision suggests that a number of patients are inappropriately accommodated in high secure settings when their needs could be met in services with lower levels of security.

The Government's response to the concerns raised in the Reed report are set out in a national health service executive document, "High Secure Psychiatric Services: Changes in Funding and Organisation", which was published in June 1995.

The high security psychiatric services commissioning board was set up on 1 April 1996 to oversee these changes to forensic services as part of the Government's response to the Reed report. These changes were designed to establish a clear purchaser-provider structure to allow future service planning to occur in circumstances similar to the rest of the NHS and to foster integration and more regionally focused ownership of future problems and solutions for these services.

The board aims to develop a co-ordinated strategy for commissioning high and long-term medium secure psychiatric services within the NHS and is working, as a matter of priority, to identify the most effective use of available resources to provide high-quality services at the level of security the individual patient requires.

Cryptosporidium

Mr. Boateng: To ask the Secretary of State of Health what machinery exists for the early identification of risks to public health from the contamination of the water supply; and if the Government will review it in the light of the cryptosporidium outbreak in the Three Valleys Water area. [18912]

Mr. Horam: Since privatisation, water companies are required to report to the drinking water inspectorate all incidents in which water quality might be affected. They are further required to report to health and local authorities any event giving rise to a significant risk to health.

Mr. Boateng: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what meetings there have been between his Department, and (a) Thames Water, and (b) representatives of water companies about the increase in the number of incidents of cryptosporidium in the water supply. [18906]

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Mr. Horam: None. The number of incidents of cryptosporidium in the water supply reported to the drinking water inspectorate remains at a low level.

Mr. Boateng: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to meet the health authorities in the areas affected by the most recent outbreak of cryptosporidium in the water supply. [18917]

Mr. Horam: Responsibility for investigation and control of such outbreaks lies with local public health specialists. Officials from the Department have been in close contact with these specialists since the problem came to light and are available to attend meetings of the incident management team should this be considered necessary.

Paracetamol and Methionine Compound

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the paracetamol and methionine compound was blacklisted for prescription on the NHS in 1986; what is his Department's current policy on the compound; and if he will make a statement. [18372]

Mr. Malone: The decision to add Pameton, which contains paracetamol and methionine, to the list of medicines which general practitioners may not prescribe at national health service expense was taken following advice from the advisory committee on the NHS drugs. The committee took into account that Pameton was considerably more expensive than paracetamol, that a doctor who was concerned about the effects of paracetamol on a patient could prescribe an alternative instead, that allowing the product to be prescribed would have no effect in potential suicide cases where paracetamol tablets were bought over the counter, and that, while the value of methionine after paracetamol overdose was well documented, evidence of benefit from methionine when administered at the same time as paracetamol was limited. The committee continues to keep the matter under review and will advise the Department of any recommended changes on the prescribing of such products.

Drug Overdoses

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many overdoses from non-prescription drugs were recorded in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [18374]

Mr. Burns: The information requested is not held centrally.

Swine Fever

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effects on humans of the consumption of pork and ham infected with swine fever. [18427]

Mr. Horam: There is no evidence that this disease has ever affected humans.

Connective Tissue Disease

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in the United Kingdom suffer from connective tissue disease (a) in total and (b) as a percentage of the population. [18826]

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Mr. Burns: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Prostheses

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what clinical trials are (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on human prostheses, prior to their being made available through the national health service. [18827]

Mr. Horam: Under the medical devices regulations which came into force on 1 January 1995, manufacturers who wish to run clinical trials on medical devices must submit their protocol to the Medical Devices Agency for assessment prior to the commencement of the trial.

Since that date, there have been 20 applications for trials on human prostheses. As part of the marketing approval system under the regulations, designated independent certification organisations may assess the results of such trials as part of the conformity process prior to the product being placed on the market and being available for use in the national health service or more generally.


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