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Organophosphates (Prions)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence he has assessed in relation to the possible subverting of healthy prions in mammals to rogue prions by reaction with organophosphates in the presence of manganese; and what implications such a reaction would have for the use of insecticide lotions in school hair lice eradication programmes. [151236]

Yvette Cooper: The hypothesis that organophosphates (OPs) cause BSE in cattle by reacting with prions in normal mammalian cells to produce abnormal prions has been assessed by the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee. This is an independent expert committee established by Government to advise on all matters relating to spongiform encephalopathies. The committee concluded that none of the available scientific evidence indicates that the BSE epidemic is related to the use of OPs. This hypothesis was not consistent with the available epidemiological evidence. For example it does not explain the high incidence of BSE in Great Britain alone when such compounds are used throughout the world. Nor does it account for the fact that the BSE epidemic in Northern Ireland lagged behind that in Great Britain by some 2 years, despite the fact that OPs were used earlier, and at higher concentrations, in Northern Ireland.

Since the evidence does not support the hypothesis, there are no current implications for hair lice treatments containing OPs. Such products are licensed by the Medicines Control Agency in the United Kingdom; it has to be satisfied regarding safety, quality and efficacy before such licenses are issued.

Registered Authorised Persons (Sterilisers) Panel

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the criteria for selecting members of the Registered Authorised Persons (Sterilisers) Panel. [150677R]

Mr. Denham: The Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management (IHEEM) has delegated authority, on behalf of the Department, to manage and direct all aspects of the professional duties of authorised persons (sterilisers) (AP(S)). This function is performed by the AP(S) Registration Panel on behalf of the IHEEM pursuant to its terms of reference. Criteria for selection are set out in the terms of reference. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what training is given to members of the Registered Authorised Persons (Sterilisers) panel; and if members are required to declare relevant interests. [150678R]

Mr. Denham: The members of the Authorised Persons (Sterilisers) (AP(S)) panel are expert professional persons recognised by their peers. They are nominated to become members by their respective national professional bodies, societies etc. The full details of panel membership are included in the terms of reference, which have been placed in the Library.

Members are expected to abide by their relevant professional bodies' codes of conduct, which include training and continuous professional development requirements as appropriate.

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Under the current arrangements, the members are not required to declare relevant interests. However, with regard to the role of the AP(S) the code of conduct is very specific on issues of potential conflicts of interest. This is applied consistently to the members of the registration panel.

Harefield Hospital

Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what account was taken of the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998 in the selection of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster health authority to lead the public consultation into the proposed transfer of services and facilities from Harefield hospital, Middlesex to a new hospital in Paddington. [151260]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 26 February 2001]: At the meeting of the west London partnership forum on 23 May 2000, it was confirmed that the consultation process would be led by Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster health authority although all health authorities in west London would be active partners in the process. As with other public authorities, health authorities have a duty under the Human Rights Act 1998 not to act in any way which is incompatible with a right under the European Convention on Human Rights. It is for the health authorities concerned to ensure that they consider, and seek appropriate advice on, whether their acts or decisions are compatible.

National Service Framework for Children

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when a national service framework for children will be developed by the NHS. [151375]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 27 February 2001]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 17 February that a national service framework for children is now under development.

Digital Hearing Aids

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which NHS trusts outside the 20 participating trusts in the modernising National Health Service hearing aid service project meet the service criteria for accessing the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency contract for digital hearing aids; and what steps his Department is taking to provide funding for equipment and staff training to enable more trusts to meet the service criteria. [151761]

Mr. Hutton: Pending the outcome of the modernising national health service hearing aid services project, other hospitals with the appropriate staff, training, equipment and experience are able to access the NHS purchasing and supply agency contract for digital hearing aids.

The Department will spend £10.75 million over the two years 2000-01 and 2001-02, and if successful, a further £25 million to roll out the project to the rest of England.

Elderly and Disabled (Care)

Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will announce a detailed definition of nursing care for the purpose of funding care for the elderly and disabled. [151905]

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Mr. Hutton: In the Health and Social Care Bill, currently before Parliament, nursing care which cannot be provided by local councils is defined as care provided by a registered nurse, and involving either the provision of care or the planning, supervision or delegation of the provision of care.

The Department is currently developing a tool to evaluate people's nursing care needs as part of work on the single health and social care assessment. National health service staff will be trained in the use of the tool in order to ensure that people receive the care they need from registered nurses, arranged through the NHS. Detailed guidance will be issued to the NHS in May.

Appointments (Electronic Booking)

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the IT contract for an electronic booking system for appointments will be implemented on time. [151842]

Ms Stuart: The project timetable will achieve the objectives in this area set out in the NHS plan, published in July 2000.

Drug Rehabilitation

Paddy Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of expenditure on drug rehabilitation work in (a) Somerset and (b) England and Wales for each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. [151582]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 01 March 2001]: The information requested is not collected centrally. Information from drug action team template returns indicate that £151.8 million was spent on drug treatment in England in 1999-2000 by all agencies, although this is likely to be an underestimate due to incomplete data, as some drug action teams were unable to provide data either in time or in the format required. Somerset health authority received a drug misuse special allocation of £405,000 in 1999-2000.

Spending Review 2000 provides for a major gearing up of adult and young people's treatment services, and will raise total expenditure on treatment to over £400 million in 2003-04. Although its final remit is yet to be finally decided, the proposed National Treatment Agency is likely to oversee performance management and development of local agencies, including approval of the treatment plans of drug action teams.

Drug Addicts (Somerset)

Paddy Ashdown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his estimate is of the number of (a) heroin users and (b) registered heroin addicts in (i) Yeovil constituency, (ii) South Somerset and (iii) Somerset in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. [151581]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 1 March 2001]: Information is not available in the form requested.

Information on the number of addicts in the Avon and Somerset police area notified by doctors to the Home Office as addicted to heroin during the years 1989 to 1996 is given in table 1. The index was closed from April 1997.

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The regional drug misuse databases (RDMDs), which report to the Department of Health, are now the main source of information on persons presenting to drug treatment services with a drug misuse problem. The number of users presenting to drug misuse agencies (including both doctors and other agencies) in the Avon and Somerset health authority areas with heroin as their main drug of misuse in each of the six-month periods ending 30 September 1996 to 31 March 2000 is given in table 2.

The two sources of information are not directly comparable.

Table 1: Number of new drug addicts notified and number of addicts renotified to the Home Office as addicted to heroin during the year by police force area of addict, Avon and Somerset, 1989 to 1996

YearNumber of new drug addictsNumber of renotified drug addictsTotal


Statistics of drug addicts notified to the Home Office, United Kingdom, 1996 Area Tables (Tables A5 and A6)

Table 2: Number of users presenting for treatment at drug misuse agencies in Avon and Somerset with heroin as their main drug of misuse during the six-month periods ending 30 September 1996 to 31 March 2000

Six-month period endingAvonSomersetTotal
September 1996720120840
March 1997747142889
September 199767196767
March 199862499723
September 1998711154865
March 1999997791,076
September 1999943631,006
March 20001,118731,191


Statistics from the regional drug misuse databases, Department of Health

Tackling drug misuse is a national priority for the NHS and its partners. Ambitious targets have been set and fully backed with additional new resources to prevent drug misuse and to enable those with drug problems to overcome them. Heroin is targeted in our anti-drugs strategy as one of the drugs which causes the most harm.

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