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Health and Social Care (Rural Areas)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will assess the benefits of joint health and social care (a) planning and (b) provision in rural areas; and if he will make a statement. [127301]

Mr. Denham: We are persuaded of the benefits of joint health and social care planning and, where appropriate, provision. We have taken a number of significant steps to promote joint working.

Joint planning is especially important in rural areas where services are more dispersed and some people face problems of access. The provision of joint services across the spectrum of health and social care has been encouraged through use of the Partnership Grant, and by the flexibilities provided for in the Health Act 1999, and increasingly means that rural areas can be better served.

The partnership arrangements in the Health Act 1999 came into force in April 2000. The new flexibilities include pooling of funds, delegation of functions and money transfers. To date there have been 22 notifications of partnership arrangements, amounting to over £200 million of resources, of which nine are from local authority areas which would be described as largely rural. These include Devon, Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

Infertility Treatment

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to make the provision of infertility treatment on the NHS a decision to be taken by central Government; and if he will make a statement; [128890]

Yvette Cooper: It is for health authorities to set their own priorities for the delivery of services and to consult locally in deciding on those priorities.

We will shortly be publishing the results of a survey into infertility provision across the country, which clearly demonstrate variations in the level of service provided. The Department will be examining ways to tackle unacceptable variations in service delivery while continuing to target our priority areas of cancer and heart disease.


Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many employees working within the NHS earn (a) the national minimum wage, (b) between the national minimum wage and £3.80 per hour, (c) between £3.80 per hour and £4.00 per hour, (d) between £4.00 per hour and £4.20 per hour, (e) between £4.20 per hour and £4.40 per hour and (f) less than £5.00 per hour; what the number of staff in (a) to (f) represent as a percentage of total NHS staff; and if he will make a statement. [108899]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is shown in the table.

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We are committed to eliminating the worst instances of low pay. The new national minimum wage removes the worst excesses of low pay and ensures greater decency and fairness in the workplace. The recent settlements

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reached for National Health Service staff on national payscales will give the lowest paid staff in the NHS proportionately more pay--taking the lowest adult hourly rate to over £4 per hour.

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Number of directly employed NHS staff by hourly salary--England

Rates at August 1999 Estimated rates at April 2000(1)
All staff Staff on national payscales(1)
Hourly salary(1)Headcount (thousand)As percentage of all staffHeadcount (thousand)As percentage of all staffHeadcount (thousand)As percentage of all staff
£3.60 to <£3.809.
£3.80 to <£4.0050.
£4.00 to <£4.2015.
£4.20 to <£4.4012.
£4.40 to <£5.0082.88.646.56.538.35.4
All staff below £5170.917.795.313.482.011.5
All staff at or above £4796.682.3615.886.60629.188.46
All directly employed NHS staff967.6100.0711.1100.0711.1100.0

(1) Figures reflect pay awards up to and including April 2000

(1) Estimates of pay awards for staff on local payscales are not available

(1) Staff earning less tan £3.60 per hour may do so because they are either: aged under 18, apprentices, receiving benefits in kind; or receiving only a proportion of their earnings directly from NHS trusts. No full-time adult payscales are less than £4 per hour

(1) Hourly earnings will be, on average, 13 per cent. higher with allowances and overtime added

(1) Indicates less than 100, but greater than zero


Department of Health's August 1999 NHS Earning Survey

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Healthy Eating

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will (a) make a statement on the Government's proposals to encourage healthy eating among children and (b) ensure that the Government's efforts are co-ordinated across the United Kingdom with the devolved administrations. [129928]

Yvette Cooper: As part of the strategy to tackle the issues raised in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of 4-18 year olds, which we published in June, we have set up a cross-Government working group on improving children's diet and physical activity in England. It involves Health and Education Ministers, the chair of the Food Standards Agency and the chair of the Health Development Agency. Already, through the Healthy Schools Programme, we are encouraging schools to present consistent, informed messages about healthy eating and food on offer from canteens, vending machines and tuck shops. Additionally we have recently announced that we will be spending £2 million this year to promote fruit and vegetable consumption among school aged children. Any further proposals to improve children's diet will be included in the National Plan for the National Health Service which is due to be announced later this month.

As public health is a devolved topic, any proposals in this area for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the devolved administrations who may develop dietary policy and initiatives which best meet their own particular needs. However, I intend to keep in close contact with my ministerial counterparts in the other UK countries and fully explore the opportunities for co-ordination in this area.

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Mr. Etherington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the research projects funded by his Department to investigate the chronic toxic effect of fluoride on body enzymes and proteins. [130198]

Yvette Cooper: The Department and its predecessors have not funded any specific research projects on the effects of fluoride on enzymes or other body proteins.

Mr. Etherington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list for each (a) health authority in England and Wales and (b) water company supplying artificially fluoridated drinking water the safety tests that are carried out in respect of (i) silicofluorides and (ii) hydrofluosilicic acid. [130204]

Yvette Cooper: All substances used in the treatment of water supplies must be approved by the Drinking Water Inspectorate acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. Disodium hexafluorosilicate (a silicofluoride) and hexafluorosilicic acid (also called hydrofluorosilicic acid) are approved for use in artificial fluoridation schemes under the Water Industry Act 1991, subject to compliance with a Code of Practice on the Technical Aspects of the Fluoridation of Water Supplies published by the Department of the Environment. This code covers the design, construction, operation and maintenance of fluoridation plant to ensure that the correct level of fluoride is added and there are fail-safe precautions against over dosing. The code includes a detailed specification for the two chemicals together with advice to water companies on how to check the purity of the chemicals against the specification.

In-vitro Fertilisation

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many in-vitro fertilization treatments have taken

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place in each of the last five years in the United Kingdom; how many were (a) NHS-funded and (b) privately funded; and if he will make a statement. [130374]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested is not available centrally.

A recent Departmental survey of infertility provision showed that many health authorities could not distinguish their spending on infertility services from their general gynaecological budget. Many have difficulty identifying some or all of the treatments they purchase.

The Department has no access to information on the number of infertility treatments being privately funded.

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