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NHS Appointments

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the NHS trust and health authority appointments which were not made by the due date and which remained outstanding on 1 June. [87334]

Mr. Denham: All health authority appointments due on 1 April 1999 were completed on time. A small number of appointments to National Health Service trusts and health authorities which expired in 1998 remain vacant. Details are given in the table.

List of health authority and national health service trust appointments which expired in 1998 and for which no appointment had been made by 1 June 1999

Region/BodyNumber of chairsNumber of Non-executives
Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust01
North West
Liverpool Women's Hospital NHS Trust01
Wirral Hospital NHS Trust01
Northern and Yorkshire
Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority01
City and Hackney Community Services NHS Trust01
Croydon Community Health NHS Trust01
Enfield Community Care NHS Trust01
Central Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust01
Grantham and District Hospital NHS Trust01
South East
East Surrey Health Authority01
South West
Gloucestershire Ambulance Service NHS Trust01
Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust01
West Midlands
Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull (Teaching) Hospitals NHS Trust01
Walsall Community Health NHS Trust01


Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he proposes to reply to letters from the hon. Member for Colchester of 22 April, 18 May and 3 June in respect of the future of cancer services in Colchester. [87355]

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Ms Jowell: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State replied to the hon. Member on 17 June 1999.

Alzheimer's Disease

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research the Government have commissioned into Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in the last three years; [87500]

Mr. Hutton: The Government fund health and medical research in a number of ways.

The Department funds research and development to support their work on policy development and evaluation in health and social care. The Department also manages the National Health Service research and development levy which is used to support research and development of relevance to the National Health Service in hospitals, general practice and other health care settings, and to fund the NHS research and development programme. In addition, the Medical Research Council (MRC)--which receives most of its income via grant-in-aid from the office of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry--funds medical research as part of the Government's funding of the science and engineering base.

Priorities for departmental research and development support for the development of policy are determined through discussion with policy colleagues, the Departmental Research Committee and Ministers. In the NHS research and development programme, priorities take account of widespread consultation with those using, delivering and managing services, within a framework overseen by the Central Research and Development Committee for the NHS. In all cases, priorities for our budgets reflect analysis of the burden of disease, potential benefits and Government priorities, and take account of the responsibilities and work of other funders.

The MRC has recently made a number of substantial investments in the area of dementia. A new centre Development Grant in Brain Ageing has been awarded in partnership with the University of Newcastle and will examine the pathology and diagnosis of dementia--this will commence next year. In addition, the Multicentre Study of Cognitive Function on Ageing is an on-going major 10 year study funded in collaboration with Department of Health.

In addition the MRC has supported 53 projects on Alzheimer's/dementia in the last three years. Copies of the list have been placed in the Library. MRC spend has been as follows:


Through the policy research programme and the NHS research and development programme the Department has invested the following amounts approximately on research into Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia (excluding research related to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Parkinson's disease) over the last five years:

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Management of much of the research supported by the NHS research and development levy is devolved and details of expenditure at project level are not collected routinely by the Department. Total investment in this area will therefore be greater than that listed above.

Projects funded by Department include:

    A longitudinal study of carer burden and comprehensive costs in dementia.

    Husbands and wives who care for elderly people with dementia and functional psychiatric disorder.

    Re-Analysis of Dementia Data Sets.

    Development of Screening Tests for Dementia and Depression in Ethnic Elders.

    AD2000--A study which aims to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of Donepezel and Aspirin in Alzheimer's Disease

Project details of work directly funded by the Department or supported through the NHS research and development levy can be found on the National Research Register (NRR), copies of which are available in the Library and most medical libraries on CD Rom, and on the internet: The NRR also contains many details of projects/trials funded by the MRC and other funders.

The NHS Health Technology Assessment programme is considering research looking at "new drugs for dementia". Full proposals will be considered at a specially convened meeting in June.

Solar Eclipse

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will issue advice to the residents in the areas from which the solar eclipse can be witnessed on the precautions to be taken when viewing it, to avoid damage to their sight. [87312]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 18 June 1999]: We have supported the optical professions in producing a leaflet "Observing Solar Eclipses--Taking care of your sight", which will be distributed to tourist information centres, libraries, optical practices and other locations places to which the public have ready access. A summarised version of the leaflet has already been made available to general practitioners and we will shortly be sending the same information to schools with details of how copies of the leaflet may be obtained.

We are collaborating with the press and other media in further publicising advice on how to view the sun safely and have let them know that they are free to reproduce the contents of the leaflet.

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Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations he has received regarding possible dangers to sight that may be caused by the August solar eclipse; [87469]

Mr. Denham: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the College of Optometrists and the Royal National Institute for the Blind were among the first bodies to advise us of the need for guidance on viewing the eclipse. We agreed to help them with the production and distribution of a leaflet, "Observing Solar Eclipses--Taking care of your sight", which is published on 23 June for distribution to tourist information centres, libraries, optical practices and other places to which the public have ready access.

In summary, the leaflet warns that looking directly at the sun is very dangerous. The radiation could permanently damage the eye. The safest way to view the eclipse is indirectly with, for example, a pinhole projection viewer. If people ignore this advice and decide to use a solar filter or a pair of eclipse spectacles, they do so at their own risk. They would be well advised to buy the device from a reputable outlet and ensure that it had a CE mark to show it had been approved under the Personal Protective Equipment Directive and also ensure that it came with full instructions for use, that it fitted closely to the face and that the lenses were not scratched or

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damaged. Even with covers for the eyepiece, binoculars and telescopes are dangerous because they can still expose the eye to excessive radiation.

We have arranged with the Department for Education and Employment for a summary of the advice to be included in the July edition of the "Spectrum" journal, which is sent to all heads of schools and chairs of governors. A summarised version of the leaflet has already been made available to all general practitioners and hospital doctors.

The College of Optometrists will publish the leaflet on their web site: and see that reference to it is included in the main Internet indexes.

We recognise that the media have a key role in educating the public on the risks to sight from the sun and we are collaborating on a series of news items in the period up to 11 August.

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the August solar eclipse will be visible in each county in the UK; and what plans he has to publicise this information more widely. [87477]

Mr. Denham: The Royal Greenwich Observatory has, by way of illustration, calculated the percentage of eclipse as follows: Cornwall and Devon 100 per cent., London 95 per cent., Manchester 90 per cent., Newcastle 85 per cent., Dundee 80 per cent., Western Isles 75 per cent., West Orkneys 70 per cent. The leaflet which the optical professions are producing notes the variable effect, but the risks from viewing the sun directly are the same whatever degree of partial eclipse.

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of consultant eye surgeons who will be (a) on duty and (b) on call during the day of the August solar eclipse. [87481]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is not available centrally, but I am confident that the contingency planning undertaken by health authorities and National Health Service trusts will ensure that hospital eye departments are appropriately staffed on 11 August. However, it would be misleading to give any impression that radiation damage to the eye is treatable. In most cases there is some recovery of sight in the months which follow the injury but, if visual acuity is permanently affected, the only help available is through the prescription of an optical appliance.

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