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Community Pharmacies

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate his Department has made of the number of community pharmacies expected to close during the year 2000. [99882]

Ms Stuart: During 1998-99 (the last year for which figures are available), 46 pharmacies opened in England to dispense National Health Service prescriptions and 51 closed. No estimate has been made of the number likely to close during 2000.

NHS Hospital Employees

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of nurses working in NHS hospitals on 2 November were (a) supplied by agencies and (b) employed on short-term fixed-length contracts. [99874]

Mr. Denham: This information is not collected centrally.

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Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prescriptions were tracked for the purposes of charging to primary care group budgets during the first six months of operation of primary care groups; and how many invoices were issued by NHS trusts and health authorities to other NHS bodies during the last six months of the period in which the fundholding and extra-contractual referrals systems were in operation. [99896]

Ms Stuart: The Prescription Pricing Authority estimates that it will charge the cost of some 255 million prescriptions against Primary Care Group prescribing budgets for the six-month period April to September 1999.

The Department does not hold information centrally on the number of invoices issued by National Health Service

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trusts and health authorities to other NHS bodies during the last six months of the period in which the fundholding and extra-contractual referrals systems were in operation.

National Screening Committee

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library a copy of the reports of the National Screening Committee inquiries into (a) diabetic screening, (b) pre-natal screening for cystic fibrosis and (c) neonatal screening for cystic fibrosis. [100013]

Mr. Denham: Copies of the National Screening Committee's workshop papers and the Health Technology Assessment report on screening for cystic fibrosis have been placed in the Library. The Library will also have copies of the National Screening Committee's workshop papers on diabetic retinopathy screening. These can also be viewed online at The National Screening Committee will consider proposals for screening for type II diabetes, which results from a relative deficiency of, or insensitivity to insulin, later next year.

Intensive Care Units

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on increasing the recruitment of doctors as specialists in intensive care units to allow them to work consecutive days in the week, as recommended in the Audit Commission's report, "Critical to Success". [100195]

Mr. Denham: We are currently carrying out a national review of intensive care services, which will lead to the publication of national standards of care. The review will take account of the range of findings in the Audit Commission's report "Critical to Success", including their findings on the arrangement for medical staffing of intensive care units.

It will be for National Health Service trusts and health authorities, who are responsible for the quality of the services they provide, to determine the number, grade and mix of staff they will require to provide those services. Intensive care medicine became a separate specialty from anaesthetics in June this year. At national level we have been reviewing the numbers of higher specialist training opportunities in both specialties together. We are satisfied that currently, there are enough trainees entering intensive care medicine, for there to be sufficient qualifying for consultant posts over the next few years. We will be reviewing the position in intensive care medicine again next year.

Waiting Times

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many out-patients not yet seen for a first outpatient appointment following GP written referral had been waiting (a) longer than 13 weeks and (b) longer than 26 weeks at the end of each quarter since June 1996 in the NHS London Region. [100282]

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

Outpatient figures for London Region

Not yet seen:
Year ending13-25 weeks26 weeks plus
June 199631,62612,585
September 199635,54912,279
December 199634,76413,744
March 199730,78415,057
June 199736,18515,054
September 1997 44,35515,819
December 199743,74018,101
March 199839,74425,954
June 199847,26616,759
September 199854,96719,383
December 199857,40624,267
March 199953,40627,949
June 199958,02924,315
September 199960,45121,857

Social Exclusion

Mr. Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he is taking in response to the report published by MIND in November into social exclusion among people with mental illness. [100642]

Mr. Hutton: We welcome the report as a contribution to the debate on social exclusion. The Government have a full programme for tackling the social exclusion of those with mental health problems. Many of the issues in the Inquiry's recommendations are being tackled through the work of the Government's Social Exclusion Unit; the Department's "Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation" revised guidance on the streamlined Care Programme Approach; Review of the Mental Health Act 1983; Impact Strategy to reduce stigma, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Department for Education and Employment/ Department of Social Security initiatives on promoting employment and benefit reforms.

Independent Healthcare Report

Mr. Geraint Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to reply to the Health Committee's Fifth report of Session 1998-99 on Regulation of Private and Other Independent Healthcare (HC 281); and if he will make a statement. [101281]

Ms Stuart: On Friday 3 December the Government will publish their reply to this Report and will also publish "Regulating Private and Voluntary Healthcare: The Way Forward" which sets out the response to our consultation on this subject and our proposals for action. Copies of the documents will be available in the Library on 3 December.


Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many applications for xenotransplantation clinical trials have been received and from which companies; how many involve (a) transgenic tissue and (b) transgenic organs; from which animals these materials come; and for each category how many permissions have been granted. [100704]

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Mr. Denham: To date, the United Kingdom Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority (UKXIRA) has received one application which complies with the requirements set out in "Guidance on making proposals to conduct xenotransplantation on human subjects". Following initial consideration by the UKXIRA, the applicant subsequently advised the authority of their intention not to pursue the application. Two other applicants have been advised to re-submit their applications in accordance with the requirements described in the guidance.

Details of applications submitted to the UKXIRA are supplied in confidence. An announcement will be made if an application is approved.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funds have been committed to research and development of the use of organs from GM pigs. [100706]

Mr. Denham: The Medical Research Council (MRC), which receives its grant in aid from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, has funded two projects related to xenotransplantation:

Between 1993 and 1998, £500,000 was allocated to: "Germ Line modification of pig organs for human transplantation" conducted by the BBSRC Babraham Institute.

In 1998-99, £50,000 was allocated to: "Endogenous retroviruses of pigs and xenotransplantation" conducted by the Institute of Cancer Research and the MRC National Institute for Medical Research.

The Department is directly funding a further project. In 1999-2000, £149,000 was allocated to: "An investigation into the ability of porcine endogenous retroviruses to infect animals other than pigs" being conducted by the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research.

Organ Donation

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to investigate methods of addressing the shortage of human donor organs other than by the use of transgenic pigs; what his policy is on an opt-out donor card; and if he will make a statement. [100705]

Mr. Denham: The Organ Donor Publicity Campaign was launched in October 1998 and was reinforced in February by a campaign targeting the South Asian community. We shall continue to build on these campaigns to encourage people to join the National Health Service Organ Donor Register, to carry the Donor Card at all times and most importantly make their wishes known to their family and friends.

We shall be developing a further campaign to inform the medical profession about best practice in requesting organ donation. Additionally, in line with the drive to improve the quality of care for all users of the NHS, we shall seek to ensure that best practice is adopted in all units involved in donation and transplantation. We shall also support best practice in live donation, which has increased significantly over the last few years.

While there is some support for an opt-out system of donation, the medical profession is divided and there are still many people who are not in favour of it. A survey

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undertaken this year has shown that there is still significantly more public support for the current system of donation than for opt-out.

We will continue to keep an open mind on all options for increasing donation rates. However, before introducing any measure aimed at increasing the supply of organs we would have to be sure that it commands public confidence.

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