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NHS Trusts (Colchester)

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to meet the chairman of the NHS trusts in the Colchester area to discuss the state of the trust's finances. [5002]

Mr. Milburn: We have no plans for a meeting, but Ministers are visiting many national health service organisations and meeting many people involved in the service, and this may well include the chairmen of trusts in the Colchester area. We are aware of the financial position of trusts, which is monitored by the National Health Service Executive.

Mr. Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to make the membership of NHS trusts in the Colchester area more representative and publicly accountable. [5004]

Mr. Milburn: We are introducing a range of measures in the coming weeks to ensure that appointments to the boards of both national health service trusts and health authorities are more democratic and representative of the communities that they serve.

Medicines (Costs)

Ms Hodge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the average cost of medicines prescribed per treatment to the NHS in each of the last 10 years. [5075]

Mr. Milburn: The available information is shown in the table.

The average net ingredient cost per prescription for items dispensed, 1986 to 1996

YearAverage net ingredient cost per prescription item (£)
ActualAt 1996 prices
1991 (a)6.086.98
1991 (b)6.207.11

1. 1986 to 1991 (a) data are from the PD1 series of forms and based on fees. They cover prescriptions dispensed by community pharmacists and appliance contractors, dispensing doctors, and personal administration.

2. 1991 (b) to 1996 data are from the new Prescription Cost Analysis [PCA] system based on items and have the same coverage as Note 1 above.

3. The net ingredient cost refers to the cost of the drug before discounts and does not include any dispensing costs or fees.

4. Figures at 1996 prices are calculated using the GDP Deflator.

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Medicines Act (Disclosure of Data)

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to amend section 118 of the Medicines Act 1968 to permit wider disclosure of data submitted by pharmaceutical companies to the licensing authority. [4923]

Mr. Milburn: We have no current plans to amend section 118 of the Medicines Act. However, in the light of the forthcoming White Paper on Freedom of Information, we will consider what further steps are necessary to maximise public access to information about their medicines whilst safeguarding genuine commercial confidentiality.

Alcohol Consumption

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how he intends to achieve the "The Health of the Nation" targets to reduce the percentage of women drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week. [5322]

Ms Jowell: The proportion of women drinking above the previously recommended sensible levels has increased over the last 10 years. It is a trend that is reflected throughout most of Europe which is strongly related to women's changing socioeconomic status.

We are funding a project at the University of Birmingham on why people drink more than recommended sensible levels. This will inform future policy and health education campaigns. Activities targeting women have been encouraged at local level through the Health Education Authority. In addition, a successful new health promotion booklet was launched last year aimed at women over 35 in the lower socioeconomic groups; the booklet includes advice on sensible drinking.

We are considering possible ways of revising alcohol targets for women which reflect the advice in the 1995 inter-departmental report "Sensible Drinking".

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the costs to the national health service of the abuse of alcohol. [5173]

Ms Jowell: Estimates of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality vary widely; the most recent academic estimate of which we are aware is reproduced in the table.

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£ million
Psychiatric hospitals, inpatient costs26.51
Non-psychiatric hospitals, inpatient costs10.64
Other alcohol-related inpatient costs109.41
General practice costs2.79

Source:Health Education Authority: Health Update 3: Alcohol (1993)--after Godfrey, C. (1992).

Resource Allocations

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the allocation of resources to health authorities will be based on a wholly-weighted formula from 1998-99. [5286]

Mr. Milburn: We are committed to an objective, needs-based approach to resource allocation. We are investigating the possibility of introducing further refinements to the weighted capitation formula in time for 1998-99 allocations.

Eye Tests

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the cost benefit analysis of reintroducing free eye tests with particular reference to people aged 60 years and over; [4425]

Mr. Milburn: We have yet to decide the terms of reference and timing of the review. No research has yet been commissioned.

Children in Care

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to provide every child in residential care with an independent visitor; and what is the expected timetable for implementation of this policy.[4773]

Mr. Boateng: Local authorities have a statutory duty to appoint an independent visitor for any child they are looking after if they believe that it would be in the child's best interest and communication between the child and his parents is infrequent.

A report is expected this summer from Sir William Utting on safeguards for children living away from home, including those in residential care. Government will consider any recommendations arising from the report on the need to extend the role of the independent visitor to all children in residential care.

EU Citizens (Residence Test)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if European Union citizens who have failed the habitual

25 Jun 1997 : Column: 541

residence test and are being denied social security benefits will become the responsibility of social service authorities. [4426]

Mr. Boateng: It is for each local authority to determine in any particular case, and taking into account all relevant information, whether a person is in need of community care services and whether such services should be provided.

Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the legal costs to date incurred by his Department and the Treasury Solicitor acting on behalf of the Medical Research Council, indicating separately disbursements and counsel fees, of the defence from claims brought against his Department and the Medical Research Council in respect of Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease litigation. [5111]

Ms Jowell: Identifiable legal costs to the Department of Health to date are approximately £500,000. These figures do not include the legal costs of the plaintiffs who were successful in their legal action in April-May 1996, since claims have not been received. Counsel costs are £320,000 and disbursements are £130,000.

In addition, numerous staff at various levels and for various periods of time have been involved in matters related to the litigation and their costs cannot be separately identified.

For the details of the costs incurred by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the Medical Research Council, I refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.


Fishing Quota

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the estimated total purchase price at current market value of all fishing vessels in non-United Kingdom ownership eligible to catch fish under the fishing quota allocated to the United Kingdom.[4723]

Mr. Morley: The Department does not hold this information.

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