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Additional Costs Allowance

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the President of the Council how many hon. Members claimed (a) additional costs allowance and (b) London weighting in 1996-97. [27321]

Mrs. Ann Taylor: (a) 611 (b) 119 were paid the London Supplement.

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the President of the Council what was the cost of administering the additional costs allowance in the last year for which figures are available. [27323]

Mrs. Ann Taylor: The cost of this area of work is not separately identified as it forms part of the workload of a section with other responsibilities for payments to Members.

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the President of the Council how many hon. Members claimed additional costs allowance of more than £500 and less than the maximum in 1996-97. [27322]

Mrs. Ann Taylor: 273.

HEALTH

Dental Services (Lincolnshire)

Mr. Hogg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the availability of NHS dental services in Lincolnshire. [26541]

Mr. Milburn: There were 135 General Dental Service dentists on Lincolnshire Health Authority's list on 30 September 1997. The health authority can refer patients to a dentist willing to register them for National Health Service treatment.

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 57

Haemophiliacs (Contaminated Blood Products)

Mr. Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to be able to make an announcement with regard to the claim for recompense by haemophiliacs infected with Hepatitis C as a result of treatment with contaminated blood products. [27169]

Ms Jowell: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State expects to be able to write to the Haemophilia Society on all the issues they have raised in the course of the next few weeks.

ME Association

Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase support from his Department for the ME Association. [27253]

Ms Jowell: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) on 2 February 1998, Official Report, column 508.

Equity of Service

Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to ensure that the measures taken by the Government to extend equity of service provided in areas covered by individual health authorities is not used by individual health authorities as an occasion to level down available services. [27244]

Ms Jowell: We will take action to ensure that the most effective services are available across the country. We will work with the professions to produce national clinical guidelines and service frameworks to improve national consistency. This will be backed up by our commitment to provide real-terms increases in the resources for the National Health Service and ploughing extra resources into patient care.

AIDS Vaccines

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to encourage the international effort to test existing AIDS vaccines. [27246]

Ms Jowell: The United Kingdom is committed to encouraging international collaboration on AIDS vaccine research. The Medical Research Council and the Department are supporting collaborative research on AIDS vaccines. Although candidate vaccines are being tested, this is a complex area of research with no easy solutions; however, the UK research on AIDS vaccines is making a significant contribution to the international effort.

HIV Testing (Pregnant Women)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for routine testing of pregnant women for HIV. [27248]

Ms Jowell: We are committed to reducing the number of children born with HIV infection. Our purpose is to ensure that women are fully informed of the benefits of having an HIV test for themselves and their babies and to encourage the uptake of named voluntary HIV antibody testing on all women attending for antenatal care who may

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 58

be at increased risk. We recognise, however, that knowing one is infected with HIV raises difficult issues for the individual.

We have produced a leaflet to provide pregnant women with the necessary information to enable them to reach an informed decision about HIV testing. The leaflet will be piloted for acceptability and usefulness in the spring in a number of antenatal clinics.

Free confidential access to HIV testing remains available to anyone who feels they may have been at risk of infection.

Children's Affairs

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what initiatives he will bring forward on the issue of children's affairs during the United Kingdom Presidency of the European Union. [27396]

Mr. Boateng: We have no plans to do so. The European Community currently has no legal competence to introduce measures to regulate policies affecting the child in the areas covered by my right hon. Friend's responsibilities. Such activities fall exclusively to the member states.

Microbiologists (Visits)

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what dates microbiologists Doctor Nasser el-Hindawi and Doctor Tharner Abdul Rahman were invited to the United Kingdom; to what extent they were party to discussions on (a) anthrax, (b) gas gangrene, (c) botulism toxin, (d) brucellosis and (e) rabbit foot and tetanus; and by whom they were invited. [26398]

Ms Jowell [holding answer 3 February 1998]: Neither Doctor Nasser el-Hindawi nor Doctor Tharner Abdul Rahman were invited to the United Kingdom. They applied to attend an international scientific workshop on anthrax in response to publicity in several scientific publications. The workshop was held in Winchester in April 1989, and was organised by various institutions who have an expertise in the control of infectious diseases, including the Public Health Laboratory Service and the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research. The purpose of the workshop was to promote international understanding of anthrax as a naturally occurring disease which poses a significant threat to public health in many parts of the world. All presentations at the workshop addressed human health aspects of the disease and none contained classified information.

The workshop contained no presentations or open discussions on gas gangrene, botulism toxin, brucellosis, rabbit foot or tetanus.

AIDS Support Grant

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to announce AIDS Support Grant allocations to local authorities for the next financial year. [27376]

Ms Jowell: We expect to announce the 1998-99 AIDS Support Grant allocations to local authorities shortly.

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 59

NHS Prescriptions

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received on the level of NHS payments to pharmacists for dispensing prescriptions. [27471]

Mr. Milburn: Since October 1997, we have received in the region of 120 letters on this subject from hon. and right hon. Members, and a very much smaller number directly from individual community pharmacists and representative organisations.

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will review the system of NHS payments to pharmacists for dispensing prescriptions; and if he will make a statement. [27472]

Mr. Milburn: We have no plans for such a review at present, but we remain keen to discuss with relevant bodies ways of making the best use of community pharmacists' skills within the National Health Service.

Tobacco and Alcohol

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions are planned in the Health Council during the British Presidency on the effect on the health of the residents of the member states of differentials in excise duty on tobacco and alcohol. [27927]

Ms Jowell: There are no plans to raise this as a formal agenda item at the Health Council on 30 April 1998.

Patient Records

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will review the requirement on general practitioners to maintain manual notes on patients so as to allow more efficient alternatives. [28115]

Mr. Milburn: The Department has been discussing with the General Medical Services Committee of the British Medical Association a proposed change to the National Health Service (General Medical Services) Regulations 1992 which would have allowed general practitioners (GPs) to maintain patient records on a computer as an alternative to manual records. The profession have requested that further work is done to develop a standardised electronic patient record and to facilitate the transfer of patient records electronically from GP to GP before the requirement to maintain records manually is removed. We will consider changing this requirement once work in these ares is suitably advanced.


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