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Road Traffic Accidents

30. Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the central recovery unit recovered from NHS trust accident and emergency hospitals in respect of road traffic accidents in (a) 1998-99 and (b) 1999-2000. [131882]

Mr. Hutton: In 1998-99, National Health Service trusts had responsibility for collecting charges for hospital treatment following road traffic accidents under the provisions of sections 157 and 158 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. NHS trusts in England collected a total of £19.6 million in that year. The system changed with the introduction of the Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999 which came into effect on 5 April 1999 and there is now a new centralised recovery system which is undertaken by the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU). The CRU recovered £26.6 million for NHS trusts in England in 1999-2000. However this sum does not represent total income to the NHS in that year. This is because income would have been received directly by trusts in the first part of the year as a carry-over from the old arrangements. We are unable to calculate the amounts carried over from the old system as this information is not collected centrally. The total amount collected for the first half of 2000-01 in England is £30.3 million.

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Beta Interferon (Gloucestershire)

31. Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will make a statement on the prescribing of beta interferon in Gloucestershire. [131883]

Mr. Denham: In Gloucestershire Health Authority beta interferon is prescribed to patients with relapsing/ remitting multiple sclerosis who fulfil the clinical criteria of the guidelines of the Association of British Neurologists. The health authority has provided additional funding of £300,000 a year to meet the costs of this treatment. This policy will be reviewed following the publication of guidance by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence.

Age Discrimination

32. Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to end age discrimination against patients in the NHS. [131884]

Mr. Hutton: Discrimination on the grounds of age within the National Health Service is totally unacceptable. The NHS Plan made it clear that we will challenge and remove any practices which discriminate against older people. The National Service Framework for Older People, which will set new national standards for the NHS and social care will be published later this year and introduced from April 2001. The new national standards will ensure that ageism is not tolerated in the NHS.

Private Hospitals

33. Mr. Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to regulate standards of care provided in private hospitals. [131885]

Ms Stuart: Independent healthcare is currently regulated under the Registered Homes Act 1984. We recognise the deficiencies with the present system and that it has not kept pace with the developments in independent healthcare over the past two decades. The Government are therefore putting in place a new modern regulatory framework for the independent healthcare sector, through the Care Standards Act 2000. One of the main elements of the Act is to establish a new independent body, the National Care Standards Commission, which will regulate independent hospitals to proper modern standards. The Act will put in place a regulatory system that will ensure the delivery of quality services, proper accountability by the provider, and flexibility to allow the regulatory framework to respond to developments in the healthcare field.

To ensure consistency and quality of service provision the Commission will inspect against national minimum standards for each of the services to be regulated, ensuring that patients can have confidence in the quality and safety of the services that they receive. Work is currently progressing on the development of the national minimum standards in consultation with patients, providers, inspectors, healthcare professionals and specialists. Once the standards are developed they will be the subject of a full public consultation in April 2001.

GP Training

34. Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to encourage GPs to undertake in-service training. [131886]

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Mr. Denham: Learning must be lifelong and cannot cease at the end of formal training. The existing general medical services arrangements for general practitioners include incentives to keep their knowledge up to date through a balanced programme of postgraduate education. This is mirrored in the new core contract for personal medical services.

In addition, the National Health Service Plan outlines a new quality agenda for the health service. Continuing professional development (CPD) is central to this and to ensuring that all GPs, doctors and other professional staff can meet the highest quality standards. The plan commits us to investing an extra £140 million by 2003-04.

We are therefore committed to developing all professionals in primary care and are currently developing, in consultation with the profession, a programme for delivering quality, with a strong emphasis on CPD.

Health Action Zones

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to announce the funding allocations for Health Action Zones for 2001-02. [131867]

Mr. Hutton: Decisions on funding levels for Health Action Zones have not yet been made. We will make an announcement as soon as we are able.

Beta Interferon

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what conclusion he has reached on the funding of beta interferon. [131869]

Mr. Denham: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has not yet published its final guidance on beta interferon for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and it would not be appropriate to pre-empt what the final guidance might say. The Government have provided the National Health Service with adequate funding to enable health authorities to fund treatments which NICE recommends.

Private Sector Secondments

Dr. Brand: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the private sector companies from which secondments have been made to his Department since June 1997. [133876]

Ms Stuart: Secondments and attachments are part of the Interchange Initiative which promotes the exchange of people and good practice between the Civil Service and other organisations. Before an Interchange can occur, all parties must be satisfied that no conflict of interest arises.

Central Records indicate the secondments have been made to the Department from the following companies since June 1997:

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Organ Transplants

Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (1) action is being taken to increase public awareness of the NHS Organ Donor Register; and if he will make a statement; [133975]

Mr. Denham: Our current organ donation campaign, launched in 1998, is ongoing. It encourages people to join the National Health Service Organ Donor Register, carry the donor card and, most importantly, discuss their wishes with their friends and family.

The percentage of the population who have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register--as of 31 December 1999 are:

Percentage of population14.3

Food Safety

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on new rules and regulations proposed by the European Community concerning the labelling, storage, use, cooking and servicing of foodstuffs on public premises, stating what consultation has been made with (a) UK local authorities, (b) HM Government and (c) similar bodies in member states of the European Community. [134182]

Ms Stuart: Proposed Regulations of the European Parliament and of the Council to consolidate and simplify existing European Union food hygiene legislation were adopted by the European Commission on the 18 July 2000. The proposals apply to food businesses throughout the food chain and are intended to reflect a need for clearer and up-to-date rules providing a high level of health protection for consumers.

The Food Standards Agency began an extensive public consultation exercise on 28 July 2000. In addition to making the proposals available on the Food Standards Agency website, copies were sent to all

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United Kingdom local authorities, all major food industry stakeholders, various consumer groups and other interested organisations. The proposals will be the subject of parliamentary scrutiny in the normal way.

Following completion of consultations, all comments will be analysed with a view to forming a UK position on the proposal.

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