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National Blood Authority

34. Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the work of the National Blood Authority. [142929]

38. Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the work of the National Blood Authority. [142933]

Mr. Denham: The National Blood Authority (NBA) is a vital part of the National Health Service and, as such is expected to provide high quality, cost efficient services. Over the past two years the NBA has introduced new

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initiatives to ensure that the quality and safety of blood for patients is maintained and improved and that NHS demand for blood components is fully met.

Southend General Hospital

37. Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the waiting lists for surgery at the Southend general hospital. [142932]

Mr. Denham: The number of patients waiting for surgery at Southend General Hospital have been affected by a combination of factors, the most significant being the increase in general practitioner referrals reflecting the development of new and enhanced service and emergency admissions which have affected elective surgical admissions. Southend Hospital National Health Service Trust is working with its other health partners and social services on ways to address this in both the hospital and the community.

Pay and Conditions (NHS Staff)

39. Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve the pay and conditions of NHS staff. [142934]

Mr. Denham: The NHS Plan sets out our proposals for improving the pay and conditions of all staff working in the National Health Service. Copies are available in the Library.

Waiting List Statistics

40. Mrs. Roe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about the way that NHS waiting list statistics are compiled. [142935]

Mr. Denham: We continue to collect waiting list statistics in the same way as the previous Administration.

Hip Replacements

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hip replacement operations took place in the NHS over the last 12 months; and what was the average cost. [142908]

Mr. Denham: In 1998-99 there were 37,189 primary total hip replacements. The average cost was £3,755.

There were also 4,013 revision of hip replacement operations, costing an average of £5,046.

Variant CJD

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated expenditure is in the current year on research work aimed at funding a drug or vaccine to control variant CJD; and what plans he has to increase his expenditure next year. [141375]

Yvette Cooper: The Department has allocated some £100,000 of funding in each of the financial years 2000-01 and 2001-02 to research projects specifically to address the development of drugs for the treatment or control of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. The Medical Research Council, together with the Department, remains ready to consider proposals for funding suitable research in this field.

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Last year we dedicated some £31.5 million into research into transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Of this, some £4 million was dedicated to diagnostics, treatment and prevention.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research the Government are funding into the possibility of vCJD infection by means other than the consumption of beef. [144372]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 8 January 2001]: The Government rely on the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) for advice on matters concerning BSE and variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease (vCJD). SEAC has concluded that BSE and vCJD are caused by prion strains that are currently indistinguishable, and considers vCJD to be an acquired prion disease caused by exposure to BSE or a BSE-like agent.

The Government are prepared to consider the funding of any proposals for research into possible explanations for BSE and vCJD, which should be submitted for consideration through the normal channels. Experiments are currently under way to look further into the theoretical possibility of transmission of vCJD via surgical instruments, or via blood. A hypothesis that BSE might be caused by an abnormal immune response is also being investigated. In addition, the Department of Health- funded National CJD Surveillance Unit follows up medical, immunological, occupational and residential histories of vCJD patients, as well as their dietary habits, on an ongoing basis to identify any common factors. The results are published in the unit's annual report.


Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will list the research projects into strokes which have been supported by Government bodies; and what was the individual level of expenditure for each project; [143247]

Mr. Denham: The main Government agency for research into the causes of and treatments for disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC) which receives its funding via the Department of Trade and Industry. The Department funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the National Health Service. The Department also provides NHS support funding for research commissioned by the research councils and charities that takes place in the NHS.

The research projects into stroke which have been supported by the Department are listed.

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The MRC grants since 1996 relevant to stroke are listed as follows. There are a number of underpinning grants and these fall into two categories: molecular/cellular mechanisms that play a central role in the pathology, natural defence mechanisms and recovery process in a number of brain injury conditions; and projects involving the development of imaging techniques to look at relevant neuropathological conditions.

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Many of the projects described are ongoing. Support for new projects will depend on priorities within the Department's policy research programme and the NHS research and development programme.

Much of MRC's work is in response mode, so it is not possible to predict spend over the next three years. However, MRC do not anticipate any major change in the level of commitment.

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