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Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the effects, with statistical information on (a) Hampstead and Highgate and (b) the London Borough of Camden of his Department's policies since 2 May 1997. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 10 April 2001]: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Regent's Park and Kensington North (Ms Buck) on 6 April 2001, Official Report, column 335W.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish for the Mid Essex Hospital Trust area the most recent figures for (a) those waiting for inpatient treatment and (b) those waiting 13 or more than 13 weeks to see a consultant. 
|Month||Total number of patients waiting|
Monthly waiting list returns
|Month||Number of patients waiting over 13 weeks|
|December 2000 (Q3 2000-01)||2,349|
QM08 quarterly return
23 Apr 2001 : Column: 179W
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the advice given by his Department on the method of calculation of local authority payments to those also assisted by the Independent Living Fund. 
Mr. Hutton: Local councils may make direct payments to people whom they have assessed as needing support, whether or not the individual also receives assistance from the independent living extension fund or the 1993 independent living fund. Copies of the policy and practice guidance on direct payments have been widely distributed and are also available on the Department's website www.doh.gov.uk. In determining the extent of a user contribution to the cost of social services support, councils should treat alike those receiving direct payments and those receiving council-commissioned services. The Department has recently consulted on draft guidance for local councils, "Fairer charges for home care and other non-residential social services", which includes advice on any assessment of ability to pay charges for people who are also assisted by the independent living fund.
Mr. Denham: On 31 March 1997 the total number of patients awaiting admission to hospital in England was 1,158,004. This is the waiting list we inherited. At the end of February 2001, the latest month for which information is presently available, there were 1,032,755 patients awaiting admission to hospital. This is a reduction of 10.8 per cent. and is over 25,000 more than our election promise to reduce waiting lists by 100,000.
Mr. Denham: Remicade is currently being appraised by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Until NICE has completed its appraisal, National Health Service bodies have been advised to use their existing arrangements to determine local policies on the publicly available evidence.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received from (a) right hon. and hon. Members, (b) medical practitioners and (c) others about the prescription status of Nutriprem 2. 
23 Apr 2001 : Column: 180W
Mr. Denham: Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition in this country, affecting about two million women. The prevalence of endometriosis is such that managing and treating it should be part of the routine work of every gynaecology department. Treatments range from managing the symptoms to surgery. The right treatment will be that which suits a particular woman's condition and needs. This will be achieved only by a woman discussing her needs fully with her doctor.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has produced clinical guidelines on "The Investigation and Management of Endometriosis". These bring together the latest evidence-based knowledge and best practice on the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, and examine options for treatment in the light of the presenting symptoms. The guidelines have been distributed to all of the Royal College's Fellows and members working in the health service.
Mr. Denham: Until April this year reports of incidents of MRSA came only through specimens submitted voluntarily by trusts for specialist microbiological tests. From April 2001 all acute trusts will be required to collect data on MRSA blood stream infections and the information will be published from April 2002. Work is under way to extend the national surveillance system to cover other areas such as surgical site infections focusing initially on orthopaedic surgery.
Mr. Denham: The information requested is not available centrally. Policy on appropriate screening arrangements will vary from hospital to hospital depending on local circumstances, the nature of any infection, risk and other factors. These decisions are best determined locally.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many legal cases arising from infections by MRSA while in hospital have been brought against the NHS in each of the past five years; 
Mr. Denham: The National Health Service litigation authority received reports of 70 claims between April 1995 and July 2000 where MRSA is mentioned in the incident details. The outcome of those claims is not known and so the cost of claims to the NHS cannot be quantified. Information on compensation paid specifically as a result of infection with MRSA is not held centrally.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on current research into developing new drugs that will combat MRSA and on the extent of Government funding in such research. 
23 Apr 2001 : Column: 181W
Mr. Denham: Considerable funding is provided for research to develop new drugs by the pharmaceutical industry, including work contracted to the Public Health Laboratory Service. The main Government agency for research into the causes of and treatments for disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC). In order to encourage research in the broad area of antimicrobial resistance, the MRC has issued a highlight notice welcoming proposals. My Department funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the National Health Service and will shortly publish its own call for research in the antimicrobial resistance field for which there is central funding of £2.5 million.
Mr. Denham: Different strains of MRSA vary in the pattern of resistance shown to other anti-staphylococcal antibiotics. Therefore, there is no definitive list of antibiotics that are effective against MRSA.
Most MRSA that occur in the United Kingdom are still sensitive to, and may be treated with, vancomycin, teicoplanin, linezolid, or quinupristin/dalfopristin. They may also be sensitive to rifampicin, fluoroquinolone antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin), chloramphenicol and to some other antibiotics. Decisions on the antibiotic(s) appropriate for the treatment of any one patient must, therefore, depend on microbiological laboratory testing of the individual bacterium.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the provision on prescription to low income mothers of special nutritional formulae for pre-term infants once they are discharged from hospital. 
Ms Stuart: Our current policy is that infant formulae are not prescribable except for children with carbohydrate intolerances. If a product is prescribable, it is prescribable regardless of the income of the child's parents or carers.
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