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HEALTH

Continence

Mr. Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to issue NHS guidance on continence in place of the existing guidelines; [120751]

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Mr. Hutton: "Good Practice in Continence Services" was issued on 19 April 2000. This guidance suggests targets for primary and community teams, health authorities and National Health Service trusts. It includes appropriate references to the NHS Performance Assessment Framework, which is used to plan and monitor the delivery of services.

A National Service Framework for Older People is currently being developed. This will supplement the guidance on continence services by placing it in the wider context of improving NHS services for older people.

EU Food and Veterinary Office

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about proposals to increase the number of inspectors at the European Union's Food and Veterinary Office. [120364]

Ms Stuart: The annual report of the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) for 1999 gave no indication that there are further proposals to increase the number of its inspectors. It did, however, report that during 1998 and 1999 the number of its inspectors had more than doubled to 87. This was as a result of the FVO's increased responsibilities, in both member states and third countries exporting to member states, for the protection of consumer health.

Fostered Children

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children there were in foster homes in (a) 1970, (b) 1980 and (c) 1999; and of these, how many were from (i) broken families, (ii) single parent family units and (iii) intact families. [120675]

Mr. Hutton: The information available is given in the table:

Children in care/looked after in foster placements, in England, years ending 31 March 1970, 1980, 1999

Boarded out/foster placements
Year ending 31 MarchNumberRate per 10,000 population (5)
197028,90023
198035,20027
199936,20032

(5) Aged under 18

Notes:

1. All numbers of children have been rounded to the nearest hundred.

2. Figures for children looked after in this table exclude agreed series of short-term placements.

3. Figures for 1970 were collected under the provisions of the Children Act 1948.

4. Figures for 1980 were collected under the provisions of the Children and young Persons Act 1969.

5. Figures for 1999 were collected under the provisions of the Children Act 1989.

6. The Department of Health does not collect data on the family background of children looked after.


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PTB Staff

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to pay the PTB staff for the 1998-99 pay year. [120914]

Mr. Denham: Professional and Technical B staff received a 2 per. cent. pay increase from 1 April 1998 rising to 3.8 per. cent. from 1 December 1998.

Generic Medicine Pricing

Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the Government's proposals for generic medicine pricing on (a) the patient pack and (b) the availability of generic medicines; [121034]

Ms Stuart: Our proposals for setting maximum prices for generic medicines aim to protect the position of the National Health Service by correcting the effect of last year's price increases, while allowing reasonable returns to those in the supply chain. We believe that the proposed new prices, which are currently subject to consultation, should stimulate a good supply of generics, including patient packs, to the NHS.

Community pharmacists, along with other parties in the supply chain, have several months in which they can reduce their stockholdings before the proposed legislation requiring price cuts takes effect. In addition, reimbursement prices will not be brought into line with the new selling prices until the following month, thus providing a further time interval during which stocks can be run down and replaced with new stock at the lower price.

Neurological Diseases

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to make implant therapy for neurological diseases available to all NHS patients. [120761]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 4 May 2000]: Implant therapy can, in some patients, be highly beneficial for people with neurological conditions. However, it is a relatively new and developing field and the merits of this form of treatment compared with traditional therapies have not yet been thoroughly tested. It is for a patient's neurologist to decide if implant therapy would be beneficial given the circumstances of each individual patient.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the review on implant therapy for neurological diseases will be completed; and if he will make a statement. [120760]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 4 May 2000]: There is some evidence that neurostimulation may help a small number of patients with severe Parkinson's Disease. There is no clear evidence however, about whether it is a clinically or cost effective alternative to another surgical technique (lesional surgery) or best medical treatment. In addition, there are three kinds of neurostimulation and at present the long-term safety of one type of stimulation (sub-thalamic) has yet to be established.

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An independent assessment of the evidence is now required for the use of neurostimulator implants in the treatment of severe Parkinson's Disease. We are currently considering the best way to take this forward.

Pharmacists

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Prescription Pricing Bureau will resume paying pharmacists for actual costs. [121120]

Ms Stuart: The Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA) continues to pay pharmacists for actual costs. The PPA is at present making balancing adjustments (which may be a credit or debit) to convert interim payments to payment of actual costs three months later than normal. Current forecasts indicated that this delay will reduce to two months by February 2001 and normal payment arrangements are expected to resume from September 2001.

Slimming Drugs

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 20 April 2000, Official Report, column 624W, on slimming drugs, upon what grounds the urgent advice of the Committee on the Safety of Medicines has been sought concerning the drug amfepramone. [121112]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 8 May 2000]: The Committee's advice was sought following the suspension by the European Court of the European Commission Decision to withdraw amfepramone products from the Community market. The Committee was asked to consider the public health implications of the reinstatement of the licences for amfepramone.

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the cost to the NHS of treatment for obesity that will arise from the withdrawal from the market of the drug phentermine and related products; and if he will make a statement. [121108]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 8 May 2000]: The decision to withdraw a product from the market is based on the safety and efficacy of that product and the associated impact on public health, not cost to the National Health Service. The decision to withdraw phentermine from the market was a European Commission Decision, with which the United Kingdom was obliged to comply, according to the legislation governing medicinal products in the European Union.

Carers

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many home carers there are in (a) Great Britain and (b) Scotland. [121326]

Mr. Hutton: The latest available information on informal carers shows that in 1995 the estimated number of informal carers in (a) Great Britain was 5.7 million and (b) Scotland was 741,000.


Source:
1995 General Household Survey.

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Consultants

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what checks are undertaken to ensure that NHS employed consultants who also work in private practice are able properly to account for their time. [121455]

Ms Stuart: Any National Health Service consultant who does private work is expected to devote substantially the whole of their professional time to their NHS work. It is for employers and employees to agree the balance between private and NHS work. Their responsibilities for the clinical care of their NHS patients must come first. It is for NHS management locally to ensure that all consultants are fulfilling their contractual commitments, and to take action if these are not being met in individual cases.

A whole time consultant is permitted to have private practice earnings of up to 10 per cent. of their gross NHS salary. If asked by their employer, they must provide fully audited accounts showing their gross income from private practice. If their private practice income exceeds 10 per cent. of their NHS salary in two consecutive years, they have the option of a maximum part-time contract, which means that the consultant foregoes one eleventh of whole time salary, in return for the removal of the restrictions on private practice earnings. However, whether on a whole time or maximum part time contract, there is a clear contractual obligation to devote substantially the whole of their professional time to their NHS duties.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what checks are undertaken on the expense claims submitted by consultants working for the NHS. [121456]

Mr. Denham: The monitoring of expense claims submitted by consultants is a matter for individual employing bodies.


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