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Human Rights Act

Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration he has taken since the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998 of its implications for the exercise of his powers of ministerial decision on proposed developments within the NHS to which community health councils have lodged official objection. [151257]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 26 February 2001]: Under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 it is unlawful for a public authority, including the Secretary of State, to act in any way incompatibly with the rights under various articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. When making any decision, the Secretary of State will consider and seek appropriate advice on any relevant human rights issues, in particular whether his actions would be compatible with those Convention rights.

East Surrey Health Authority

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much additional funding above the GDP deflator will be available to East Surrey Health Authority for the 2001-02 financial year; and what the change in cash resources will be available to East Surrey Health Authority to spend at its discretion in meeting local health priorities above the GDP deflator for the 2001-02 financial year. [151687]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 5 March 2001]: East Surrey Health Authority (ESHA) will receive a total cash increase of £22,572,000 for the 2001-02 financial year. This is a 8.46 per cent. total cash increase or 5.82 per cent. in real terms. In monetary terms the additional funding in real terms is £15,516k.

The total cash increase figure includes the increase owing to the extra £140 million resources issued in February plus cost of living and performance fund elements. This gives the total recurrent/non-recurrent cash increase available to ESHA.

East Surrey health community, in line with all other health systems is currently implementing the NHS Plan at a local level through its annual planning process. The local priorities are set out in the East Surrey Health Improvement Programme and demonstrate robust close partnership working.

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The new NHS Performance Fund, worth £250 million for 2001-02 and rising to £500 million by 2003-04, is being made available on a fair share basis to all health authorities. It will provide resources for locally developed and designed incentive schemes across each health economy, tailored to the particular needs of each area but aimed overall at supporting implementation of the NHS Plan.

Fishery Product

Mr. Nicholls: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what comments Her Majesty's Government have made on the recommendations made in the Mission report (ref. XXIV/1042/99 MR Final 22-26 Feb '99) to the Food and Veterinary Office on 26 April 1999; what visits Her Majesty's Government have received from EU officials to discuss the placing on the market of live bivalve molluscs and of fishery products in member states; what future visits have been notified to Her Majesty's Government under the EU's FVO Missions Programme for 2001; what progress has been made in implementing recommendations made to Her Majesty's Government following previous inspections; and if he will make a statement. [152094]

Ms Stuart: The Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) wrote to the European Commission following receipt of the draft Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) report of its mission to the United Kingdom to evaluate implementation of Directive 91/492/EEC. A number of comments were submitted both to correct inaccuracies in the draft report and to provide clarification on certain points. The CVO commented on two issues which had been identified as requiring immediate corrective measures. These concerned the immediate closure of production areas following the detection of diarrhoeic shellfish poison and the coverage of the phytoplankton and biotoxin monitoring programme in England and Wales. Action has been taken on these two recommendations. The CVO also welcomed the Commission's evaluation of the Directive within the European Community and indicated that the UK would play a full and active part in the proposed commission working group to discuss further some of the issues which were identified during the inspections visits to member states.

Apart from the visit by FVO inspectors in February 1999 Commission inspectors visited the UK in October 1995 and in May 1996 to evaluate implementation of Directive 91/493/EEC. No specific dates for a future visit to the UK have been decided but the FVO programme of

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visits for the first half of this year indicates that the FVO will visit the UK to carry out inspections of fishery products and bivalve molluscs.

Following all visits, in those cases where deficiencies were noted by the inspectors in individual establishments, the relevant local food authorities were asked to ensure that corrected action is taken. In those cases where the recommendations are addressed to the competent authority, action has generally either been taken or is being considered as part of a wider strategy.

Hypodermic Needles

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the annual cost is of equipping the NHS with conventional hypodermic needles; what assessment he has made of the annual cost of equipping the service with safer needles; and if he will make a statement. [152074]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 6 March 2001]: Sales of hypodermic syringes and needles to the National Health Service via the NHS Logistics Authority total £15.5 million per annum. This may not be the total figure because some NHS trusts may have their own contracts for these items for which records are not held centrally.

The cost to the NHS to introduce safer products and to replace the standard ones already available could be anything up to five times this amount depending on the type of product selected (from simple needle guard protectors to highly sophisticated products which automatically retract the needle into the syringe barrel).

There is not one single, optimum product which will meet everyone's needs.

Hospital Pharmacists

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library information relating to (a) the number of hospital pharmacists, (b) their recruitment and retention rates, (c) the number employed and the number of vacancies in each trust and (d) their pay scales in 2000 and 2001; and what plans he has to review the status and pay of hospital pharmacists. [152058]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 6 March 2001]: The information requested has been placed in the Library. Information requested about hospital pharmacists' recruitment and retention is not collected centrally.

Offers have been made to health care pharmacists in line with those for other non pay review body staff of pay increases from 1 April 2000 of 3.25 per cent. or £300 if greater, and from 1 April 2001 of 3.7 per cent. or £380 if greater. We are working closely with unions and employers on a new pay system for National Health Service staff, and future arrangements for determining the pay of health care pharmacists are the subject of those negotiations.

Needlestick Injuries

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many settlements the NHS has made for needlestick injuries; how many of these cases were settled out of court; and what the total value of cases settled was in each of the last three years for which figures are available; [152075]

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Mr. Denham [holding answers 6 March 2001]: Data on needlestick injuries to National Health Service staff and any absence resulting from such injuries, are not collected centrally unless the incident involves the risk of transmission of a blood borne virus. Information on needlestick injuries would be reflected in incident reports held locally by individual NHS employers.

Data collected as part of the National Surveillance of Occupational Exposure to Blood Borne Viruses in Health Care Workers between July 1997 and December 2000 indicated that 1,044 NHS staff were exposed to blood borne viruses during this period.

NHS Working Conditions

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in providing more flexible working conditions for NHS staff; and if he will make a statement. [151942]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 6 March 2001]: We are fully committed to investing in National Health Service staff. We recognise that a modern NHS must offer staff a better deal in their working lives including the provision of more flexible working practices.

The Improving Working Lives Standard, launched in October 2000, has been developed to set a model of good employment practices against which NHS organisations will be measured. NHS organisations are required to provide a portfolio of evidence showing that they are delivering more flexible working for all staff by April 2003.

Evidence of flexible working is a component of trusts' pledge to achieve Improving Working Lives accreditation. In a number of trusts including Warrington General Hospital, where a ward pilot is currently taking place, a self-rostering system has been introduced to give staff more control and flexibility in their working lives. Team based self-rostering is also evident in Blackburn, North Manchester and Stepping Hill Hospitals.

The NHS has received funding of £1 million to support Improving Working Lives during 1999 and again in 2000. The NHS Plan announced investment building up to over £30 million by 2004 to boost child care arrangements and give parents more affordable, accessible, good quality child care.

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