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Blood Collection

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much each hospital in (a) London, (b) Surrey, (c) Kent and (d) Sussex paid in 1999-2000 to private taxi firms to collect blood from blood banks; what estimate has been made of the savings to these hospitals from using the free service provided; and what guidelines he plans to issue to hospitals within the emergency rider volunteers' catchment area to encourage them to take advantage of their services. [152850]

Mr. Denham: The information requested around the cost incurred to hospitals by taxi firms to collect blood from blood banks in London, Surrey, Kent and Sussex is not held centrally. The Department does not collect information of the savings to hospitals from using free services to collect blood from blood banks.

From 1 April 1999 the supply of blood and blood components has been covered by a National Service Agreement between National Health Service trusts and the National Blood Service (NBS). This agreement stipulates the cost of routine scheduled deliveries to trusts absorbed into the prices charged for the provision of blood and blood components. The trusts and the local blood centres agree the routine delivery schedules to a trust. The NBS uses its own vehicles, couriers or taxis to provide the ad hoc deliveries. The decision is based on cost and availability of mode of transport as the supply may be urgent. Regardless of the actual transport cost the trust is only charged £11.50.

We have no plans to issue guidelines to hospitals within the emergency volunteers' catchment area to encourage hospitals to take advantage of their services. The NBS has a responsibility to ensure that the safety of the blood supply is not compromised. Therefore the transportation of blood, blood products and tissues is carefully controlled using the NBS transport fleet together with the specifically arranged contracts with third party suppliers. This ensures that the appropriate standard of vehicles and equipment is used, together with the appropriate training of staff, environmental controls and employment of route scheduling. The safety and security of the blood supply is paramount; therefore the use of volunteers to undertake this activity has not been actively pursued by the NBS.

Bognor Regis Health Centre

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health who is the legal and beneficial owner of the Bognor Regis health centre. [152958]

Ms Stuart: The ownership of the Bognor Regis health centre rests with Sussex Weald and Downs National Health Service Trust.

Health Benefits Administration

Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the annual cost is of (a) administering the collection of health charges, including anti-fraud measures and (b) administering the health benefit scheme. [153065]

Ms Stuart: The cost of administering the collection of health charges in England, including anti-fraud measures, forms part of the running costs of the National Health Service and is not identified separately.

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The direct cost of administering the NHS low income scheme in England is expected to be around £3.97 million for 2000-01.

NHS Computer Systems

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS hospital trusts have achieved level 3 EPR. [153049]

Mr. Denham: [holding answer 9 March 2001]: The position at the end of December 2000 was that four acute trusts had EPR level 3 systems in place, with the figure forecast to rise to 11 by the end of the current financial year.

Recombinant Factor 8

Mr. Shepherd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Government intend to make Recombinant Factor 8 available to all haemophiliacs in England. [153182]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 12 March 2001]: We are continuing to give careful consideration to this issue.

Cancer Treatment (Newcastle)

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the decision was taken to replace the existing Northern Centre for Cancer Treatment at Newcastle general hospital; what recent changes in numbers of linear accelerators have been made; and how many successive business cases for replacements have been submitted since 1997. [153195]

Mr. Denham: The 1993 Newcastle Strategic Review strategy document did not include provision for the relocation of the Northern Centre for Cancer Treatment (NCCT) from the Newcastle general hospital site. Arising from public consultation it became apparent that, as acute services were relocated off the Newcastle general hospital site, the NCCT would become increasingly isolated from access to surgery, medicine, anaesthetics, critical care and other clinical services. Plans were therefore drawn up as part of the Freeman hospital site development control plan. Consequently, the subsequent strategic outline case (SOC) (approved in April 1998) included the reprovision of the NCCT on the Freeman hospital site.

The SOC recognised the constraints on radiotherapy capacity in the existing NCCT (six linear accelerators in 1998) and proposed that the new NCCT should open with seven linear accelerators, moving swiftly to eight and with bunker capacity for nine.

Since the publication of the Royal College of Radiologists' Report on Radiotherapy and of the National Health Service Cancer Plan in autumn 2000, the outline business case (OBC) has been amended to note the potential requirement to construct up to 12 linear accelerator bunkers should further capacity be required in the future. If required, this extension would have funding implications over and above that detailed in the existing OBC.

In 2000 funding was agreed via the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) to replace two linear accelerators at NCCT. The trust also funded the upgrading of a third linear accelerator. In addition, a seventh bunker has been constructed, giving some additional capacity and

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flexibility to maintain six operational linear accelerators during installation and upgrading works. The first NOF funded machine was commissioned in December 2000 and the second machine will be operational in December 2001.

Freeman and RVI Hospitals

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the major investment in new hospital facilities at the Freeman and RVI hospitals Newcastle was first accepted in his Department's programme; when it was decided to use PFI finance; how many business cases have subsequently been submitted; and how many health authorities had to be signed up to the business case on each occasion. [153194]

Mr. Denham: The Newcastle Strategic Review (NSR), as a strategy, was approved by Ministers in December 1993. In the mid-1990s the centralisation of obstetrics and gynaecology services (which had previously been fragmented) onto the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) site took place. In addition there was a £11 million public sector investment to centralise ophthalmology services also onto the RVI site. In 1995 the first of the "fast track" public capital allocations were made (which finally totalled £8.4 million) to facilitate further movement of acute services off the Newcastle general hospital site. Confirmation of the support to larger scale capital investment at RVI and Freeman to complete the implementation of the NSR was provided by the approval of the second wave strategic outline case (SOC) in April 1998, revisions to which were approved in September 1999.

The second wave SOC envisaged most of the capital investment being provided under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). A similar position applied in the subsequent revised SOC proposals. This was in line with practice for almost all major hospital schemes referred to the Capital Prioritisation Advisory Group.

Complete consultation drafts (dated February 2000) of the Outline Business Cases (OBC) for the PFI construction of new facilities on the Freeman and RVI hospital sites were submitted to the Northern and Yorkshire Regional Office in spring 2000. Following the final confirmation of purchaser support these were subsequently revised and the final version of the OBC were submitted to the regional office in February 2001 and are now under assessment.

Complete consultation drafts of the business case for the £15.3 million publicly funded enabling schemes for the NSR were submitted to the Regional Office in March 2000 and June 2000. The definitive version was submitted in October 2000 following support and approved in November 2000.

A full business case for the PFI replacement of the existing Energy Centre at the RVI was approved in December 2000. This scheme had not been a part of the NSR SOC.

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For both the main NSR scheme and its enabling works scheme five health authorities were signed up (Newcastle and North Tyneside, Northumberland, Gateshead and South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham) and a further two (Tees and North Cumbria) were consulted.

Radio/Microwave Masts and Waves

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research he has commissioned into the health effects of radio masts and waves and microwave masts and waves. [153193]

Yvette Cooper: A study on the incidence of leukaemia near all 20 high power TV/FM radio transmitters in Great Britain was published in 1996 by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU). This study found that there was no observed excess risk of leukaemia within 2 kilometres of all the transmitter sites looked at as a group. The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) evaluated the results of the SAHSU study. In their statement COMARE reiterated their previous advice that there is no firm evidence of a carcinogenic hazard from exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) from TV and radio masts emissions.

Last year a report on mobile phones and health was published by the Independent Group on Mobile Phones, chaired by Sir William Stewart. The Stewart report provided a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of existing research considered the possible effects on health of mobile phones and base stations (masts). The report concluded that the balance of evidence indicates that there is no general risk to health of people living near base stations on the basis that exposures are expected to be small fractions of guidelines. Among its conclusions the Stewart group commented that the upsurge of mobile phone technology should be matched by good quality research. We have responded by setting up a new programme jointly funded by industry. The first call for proposals was issued on 9 February.

The Department is also continuing to provide financial support for the World Health Organisation International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project which is comprehensively reviewing EMF effects, including those of radio waves.

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