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Mr. Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the tension-free reinforcement mesh technique for treatment of hernias relative to conventional surgery; what assessment he has made of possible savings to the NHS of wider adoption of this method of treatment; and if he will make a statement. [52498]

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Mr. Boateng: The Royal College of Surgeons issued clinical guidelines on the management of groin hernias in 1993. These endorsed the Shouldice technique but recognised that early results from tension-free repairs using prosthetic mesh rivalled the Shouldice repair. The Department has provided funding to the Surgical Epidemiology and Audit Unit at the Royal College of Surgeons to carry out a national audit of the outcome of groin hernia. This will enable current surgical practice to be compared with the 1993 guidelines. The use of prosthetic mesh in hernia repairs has also been advanced by the development of laparoscopic herniorrhaphy which has been the subject of a large randomised controlled trial conducted by the Medical Research Council. Results from that trial are expected early next year. We will, in the light of this work, consider with the Royal College of Surgeons whether further guidance is needed.

Doctors and Nurses

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many unemployed doctors and nurses there are currently in the United Kingdom. [52802]

Mr. Milburn: Information about numbers of unemployed doctors and nurses is not available centrally.

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what projections his Department has made of the number of doctors and nurses who will have to be recruited from outside the United Kingdom to fulfil his targets of 7,000 extra doctors and 15,000 extra nurses. [52807]

Mr. Milburn: Numbers of doctors are expected to increase by up to 7,000 and numbers of nurses by up to 15,000 during the period 1998-2001. Our projections suggest that around half the doctors will be recruited from outside the United Kingdom. More nurses will complete the training each year, in which we have already invested. As the National Health Service offers more supportive and flexible family-friendly working environments, trusts will be able to attract and retain more nurses, some of whom may be from overseas, and encourage back in to practice those not currently working in their profession.


Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what parking facilities for cycles exist at each office or site for which his Department is responsible and for each agency for which he is responsible. [52678]

Ms Jowell: All of the buildings and sites for which the Department has management responsibility have facilities for cycle storage either in the form of dedicated spaces (for example cycle racks), by the provision of secure areas, or by arrangement with landlords, as shown in the table. In the majority of buildings additional cycle parking is available in the car park.

BuildingDedicated cycle spaces
Richmond House, London, SW1A18
Skipton House, London, SE135
Wellington House, London, SE125
Market Towers, London, SW84
Eileen House, London, SE110
Hannibal House, London, SE1(13)--
West Riding House, Leeds(14)--
Trevelyan Square, Leeds8
Capital Drive, Milton Keynes4
Premier Buildings, Lancashire(15)--
Bartholomew House, Birmingham(15)--
John Snow House, Durham(16)--
Maid Marion House, Nottingham4
Hasketh House, Lancashire79
Millennium Park, Warrington(15)--
Westward House, Bristol(15)--
J. Rothschilde House, Nottingham(15)--
Glenthorne Youth Treatment Centre, Birmingham20
Berkley Square, Bristol4

(13) Shares Skipton House facilities

(14) Cycle parking available in landlord's underground car park

(15) Parking available in car park

(16) Secure area available for parking cycles

28 Jul 1998 : Column: 178

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of the employees of his Department and of the employees of each agency for which he is responsible cycle to work; and what measures he plans to increase that proportion. [52679]

Ms Jowell: No information is available on the proportion of the Department's employees who cycle to work. Measures to increase the proportion of employees cycling to work are being considered as part of the development of green transport plans for buildings occupied by the Department and its agencies.

Compliance Cost Assessments

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the compliance cost assessments published by his Department since 1 May 1997. [52960]

Ms Jowell: Since 1 May 1997, the Department has published seven compliance cost assessments:


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects the Register of Chiropractors to open; and if he will make a statement. [52979]

Ms Jowell: The Department is currently discussing a timetable for the opening of the register with the General Chiropractic Council designate. I hope it will be possible to agree a target date very shortly.

28 Jul 1998 : Column: 179

Social Services (Worcestershire)

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase funding of social services in Worcestershire; and if he will make a statement. [52733]

Mr. Boateng: We recently announced, as part of the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review, that Personal Social Services will receive an additional £2.8 billion over the next three years, an average annual real terms growth of 3.1 per cent. over the period. Details of each local authority's share of these increased resources will be announced later in the year.

Hepatitis C

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will respond to representations made on behalf of people infected with hepatitis C by blood products. [53098]

Mr. Dobson: I have today written to the Haemophilia Society explaining that, after lengthy and very careful consideration, we have concluded that haemophiliacs who have been infected with hepatitis C through National Health Service treatment should not receive special payments.

Government policy is that compensation or other financial help to particular patients or groups of patients is paid out only where the NHS or individuals working in it have been at fault. The needs of people whose condition results from inadvertent harm is met from benefits available to the population in general. On that basis, we have decided not to make an exception to the general rule in the case of haemophiliacs infected with hepatitis C.

Whilst the Society makes a special case for haemophiliacs because the infection comes on top of a pre-existing serious long term medical condition, the same considerations apply to other individual patients and groups of patients, whether inadvertently infected with another illness or harmed as a result of another medical or surgical procedure who can obtain compensation only if there has been negligence. The Society also argued that, as Government provides financial help to haemophiliacs infected with HIV, this scheme should be extended to cover people with hepatitis C. However, our view is the circumstances were different: the stigma around HIV at the time the original decision was taken, the fact that it was generally considered a sexually transmitted disease and that haemophiliacs could inadvertently infect their partners were all important considerations which do not apply to hepatitis C.

The Society was particularly concerned that young people were fearful of the possibility of passing on hepatitis C. That is a concern we share. The Department is therefore working with the Society to develop a project aimed at helping young people with haemophilia and related disorders who are infected with hepatitis C to understand their condition and so improve their future health, education and employment prospects. We will help with funding for this project.

In an earlier decision, we have already agreed that recombinant Factor VIII is made available to children under 16 and to new patients.

28 Jul 1998 : Column: 180

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