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Departmental Responsibilities

Mr. Maude: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what responsibilities which his Department had prior to the Comprehensive Spending Review are to be (a) discontinued by his Department, (b) transferred to another department, (c) transferred to an executive agency and (d) added to his Department over the period 1998-99 to 2001-02. [68394]

Mr. Kilfoyle: (a) The Security Facilities Division will be closed by 31 March 2001. (b) The Freedom of Information Unit transferred to the Home Office. (c) No responsibilities will be transferred to an executive agency. (d) The Women's Unit and Women's National Commission (NDPB) transferred from the Department of Social Security, UK Anti Drugs Co-ordination Unit from the Privy Council Office, and Head of Government Information & Communications Service from the Home Office. The Performance and Innovation Unit and the Centre for Management & Policy Studies have been newly established within the Department. The Royal Commission on House of Lords reform to be established in March 1999.

Departmental Legislation

Mr. Maude: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what additional legislation, not currently before Parliament, was assumed in the production of his Department's spending allocation for 1999-2000 to 2001-02 in the Comprehensive Spending Review. [68410]

Mr. Kilfoyle: There is a long-standing convention that legislative proposals for each year are not announced before the Queen's Speech at the start of the relevant Session.

Joint Consultative Committee

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he discussed working families tax credit with the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) as a policy which might be discussed by the Joint Consultative Committee. [68366]

Dr. Jack Cunningham: No.

HEALTH

Dental Care

Mr. Colvin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the forthcoming White Paper on Health is planned to be published; and if it will contain a section on dental care. [67108]

Ms Jowell: The "Our Healthier Nation" Green Paper included oral health in an indicative list of areas which

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might be suitable for local health improvement targets to tackle health inequalities. The consultation asked how opinion on fluoridation could best be tested at local level. The forthcoming "Our Healthier Nation" White Paper will take full account of the responses to the consultation. We plan to publish the White Paper in the spring.

Neurology Services

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the specialist indicators which will be used to assess neurology services under the new NHS National Performance Framework. [66875]

Mr. Denham: "The New NHS Modern and Dependable: A National Framework for Assessing Performance" was published for consultation in January 1998 to signal our commitment to a broader based approach to assessing National Health Service performance. It included an initial set of high level performance indicators, which included two composite indicators in the "Effective Delivery of Appropriate Healthcare" area relevant to neurological services. The first was a chronic care management indicator including age and sex standardised admission rates for epilepsy. The second was a discharge from hospital indicator which included the rate of discharge home within 56 days of emergency admission from home with a stroke. Following consultation, the revised NHS performance assessment framework will be published shortly, together with a revised set of initial high level performance indicators. The high level performance indicators will continue to develop over time to ensure they focus on the outcomes that matter most to patients and the public.

Hospital Merger (Leicester)

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations he has received on the proposed merger of NHS acute hospital trusts in Leicester; [66916]

Mr. Denham: When considering merger proposals the main factor must be the benefits any merger would bring to patients. Any proposal to merge National Health Service trusts will be expected to realise management cost savings of a minimum of £500,000 within two years. These savings would be retained locally for investment in frontline NHS services.

Ministers have not received direct representation on this issue. However, on 28 January 1999 I announced that a public consultation would be initiated on proposals to merge Glenfield Hospital NHS Trust, Leicester General

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Hospital NHS Trust and Leicester Royal Infirmary NHS Trust. The consultation will be carried out by NHS Executive Trent and will last from 22 February to 22 May. There is a formal requirement for the Department to consult with the Community Health Council but arrangements will also be made locally for the wider public to be invited to make their views known. Ministers will make a decision after the consultation has completed and all representations have been fully considered.

Correspondence

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health took 17 weeks to reply to the letter dated 9 September 1998 from the hon. Member for Christchurch about the continued availability of animal insulin for diabetics; and if he will make a statement. [67344]

Ms Jowell: I apologise to the hon. Member for the exceptional length of time taken to reply to his letter. Unfortunately it was misplaced within the Department. As soon as it came to light my noble Friend the Under-Secretary replied immediately.

Organophosphate Poisoning

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what procedures are in place to inform doctors of the symptoms of organophosphate exposure; [67123]

Ms Jowell: The Chief Medical Officer wrote to all doctors in England in 1991, and again with the Chief Executive of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in June 1993, to alert doctors to the possibility of adverse effects from exposure to pesticides and certain veterinary medicines and to remind them of the reporting schemes for human adverse reactions to veterinary products operated by the Employment Medical Advisory Service and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's Veterinary Medicines Directive. The Chief Medical Officers in Scotland, in Wales and in Northern Ireland also wrote to doctors in those countries.

An article in the October 1995 edition of Chief Medical Officer's Update, a quarterly publication sent to all doctors in England, dealt with both the acute and chronic effects of organophosphates (OPs) and the methods for reporting adverse reactions to them.

A further article, in the April 1996 edition of Update (England only) informed all doctors of the publication, in the same month, of the new edition of the book "Pesticide Poisoning: Notes for the Guidance of Medical Practitioners". This book contains a section on the acute and chronic toxic effects of OP insecticides and was sent by all United Kingdom Health Departments to general practices, accident and emergency departments and consultants in communicable disease control (and equivalents) with a covering letter.

Copies of this book were also sent to the presidents of the Royal Colleges (Royal College of Physicians, Royal

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College of Surgeons, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Pathologists, Faculty of Public Health Medicine and Faculty of Occupational Medicine) under cover of an explanatory letter which encouraged them to draw the book to the attention of their Fellows/Members through their continuing medical education programmes.

Copies of the book "Pesticide Poisoning: Notes for the Guidance of Medical Practitioners" are available in the Library.

A report of a joint working party of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Psychiatrists set up at the invitation of the Department to advise on clinical aspects of long-term low-dose exposure to OP sheep dips was published in November 1998. An article in the February 1999 edition of the CMO's Update will draw doctors' attention to the report and the recommendations it contains on diagnosis and management of patients.

Over the coming months, we will also be discussing with other bodies such as the National Poisons Information Service, the working party's recommendations for improving awareness amongst general practitioners and other measures which might improve aspects of the diagnosis and management of this group of patients.


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