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NHS Direct

Kali Mountford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) of the people using NHS Direct, since it began, in Colne Valley constituency or other similar local areas for which figures are kept, how many (a) were referred to hospital, (b) were referred to their GP and (c) received other advice; [102233]

Ms Stuart: Between April and October this year, NHS Direct West Yorkshire handled over 65,000 calls. The current systems are unable to report information at constituency, primary care group or health authority level, except for calls received via the general practitioner co-operative.

Kali Mountford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact of NHS Direct on other local health services in the Colne Valley constituency, South Kirklees Primary Care Group area or other similar local areas. [102232]

Ms Stuart: The Medical Research Unit of the University of Sheffield is undertaking an independent evaluation of NHS Direct. This evaluation will include a study of the outcomes from calls to NHS Direct. We expect the University of Sheffield's full and final report to be published early next year.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will draw up guidelines to ensure that all general practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion are required to make such objection known within their publicity and advertising materials; [101931]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 9 December 1999]: In 1991 the General Medical Services Council of the British Medical Association issued guidance to general practitioners through local medical committees, reminding them of their obligations under their terms of service. That guidance remains extant and GPs who have a conscientious objection to abortion should refer the patient to another doctor as soon as possible. GPs who fail to do this could be alleged to be in breach of their terms of service.

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Earlier this year regional directors were asked to ensure that primary care groups have arrangements in place so that women considering an abortion are able to have easy access to a GP who can make a referral where appropriate.

A doctor is not required to make known on a practice leaflet a conscientious objection to abortion or any other treatment.


Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many physiotherapists have been employed by the NHS through agencies in the last five years; and what steps he has taken to reduce expenditure in this area. [102692]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is not available centrally.

High-security Hospitals (Staff Vacancies)

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many vacancies there are currently in high-security hospitals for (a) nurses, (b) nursing assistants, (c) occupational therapists, (d) forensic psychologists and (e) psychiatrists; and what the figures were in May. [102697]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is not available centrally.

Eastbourne Hospitals NHS Trust

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health in what capacity the immediate former chief executive of Eastbourne Hospitals NHS Trust is currently employed; where he is located; and what requirements he is presently being asked to meet. [102249]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 14 December 1999]: Following the resignation of the former chief executive of Eastbourne Hospitals National Health Service Trust it was agreed that he would continue to be employed by the NHS for a further six months, although not in a chief executive's role, and not at Eastbourne.

The former chief executive is therefore in discussion with the chief executive at Mid Kent Healthcare NHS Trust in Maidstone about a special project for up to six months.

Breast Cancer

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress is being made with respect to the building of a new breast cancer unit at Nottingham City Hospital; and if he will make a statement; [102226]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 14 December 1999]: The National Health Service Executive Trent regional office has received an outline business case for a new breast care unit from Nottingham City Hospital NHS

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Trust. When the Department's capital allocations for 2000-01 are announced, this project will be considered along with other priorities.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research he has commissioned on the success rate for pre-operative diagnosis of breast cancer of the triple assessment method. [101983]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 15 December 1999]: We fund health and medical research, including that for breast cancer, in a number of ways.

The Department funds research and development to support its 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.

There is strong existing research evidence for the value of using the combination of clinical examination, mammography and fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) known as "triple assessment" to diagnose cancer in women with breast lesions. A review of 15 follow-up studies showed that triple assessment is consistently more sensitive than any single test alone, capable of picking up 95 per cent. to 100 per cent. of cancers when at least one component is positive. When all three tests give the same result, whether positive or negative, the probability that the diagnosis is correct is about 99 per cent. In most cases, therefore, women with three positive tests can be offered therapy and those whose tests are all negative can be reassured without the need for surgical biopsy. In addition, triple assessment can be carried out in a single visit, reducing the time to achieve a definitive diagnosis.

"Improving Outcomes in Breast Cancer" was issued in 1996 by the NHS Executive Headquarters to provide evidence-based guidance on commissioning breast cancer services in the NHS. This recommends the use of triple assessment. A synopsis of the research evidence underlying the guidance was published alongside the guidance. Copies of both documents are available in the Library. We have invested an additional £30 million since 1997-98 to improve breast cancer services, building on this guidance.

Information on the use of triple assessment is not collected centrally.

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Mobile Phones

Mr. Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Government will publish their response to the Science and Technology Committee's report on the Scientific Advisory System: Mobile Phones and Health, HC (1998-99) 489. [103537]

Yvette Cooper: The Government response to the Committee will be laid before the House tomorrow. Copies will be placed in the Library.

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Contract Nursing

Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the NHS paid for non-NHS nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff in 1998-99 in (a) England and (b) each NHS region. [102880]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is not available centrally.