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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average length of time patients waited to receive (a) digital and (b) other hearing aids was (i) in the United Kingdom and (ii) in Gloucestershire in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 26 April 2001]: The Department does not collect information on waiting times for hearing aids as it collects data only on consultant-led specialities, and waiting for an appointment for a hearing aid to be fitted is not always consultant-led. Information is available for audiology which covers other things within that speciality. Data are collected for ear, nose and throat and audiological medicine, but this is not specific to hearing aids. These are shown in the table.
|Data for England|
|Data for Gloucestershire HA (QDY)|
(9) No data
The out-patient average should be treated as an approximation only. This is because it is calculated from data split into four timebands. It is calculated as the median waiting time (in weeks) of those seen for a first out-patient appointment during the quarter following a GP referral.
QM08R quarterly waiting times return
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part of the normal responsibility of health authorities and trusts and audiology services should benefit from this very significant increase.
In addition, substantial extra funds have been provided for the "Modernising NHS hearing aid services" project, which is evaluating leading edge digital hearing aids for NHS patients, together with the evaluation of associated service delivery changes. An extra £10.75 million has been made available for the 20 NHS hearing aid departments involved in the project. If the project is successful, we anticipate by 2003-04 that an extra £25 million will be invested in NHS hearing aid services.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the waiting list was for those waiting for hip replacement operations on the NHS in the north-west in each of the years from 1997 to date; 
Ms Stuart: Between 1997 and March 2001, there were 50 licensed red meat abattoirs and 16 licensed white meat abattoirs in the north-west (Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside). The number of licensed red meat abattoirs fell to 47 in late March, when three abattoirs surrendered their licences in order to take part in the cull schemes introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food during the foot and mouth disease outbreak.
Currently, licensed abattoirs are also subject to additional approval arrangements under the Foot and Mouth Disease Order as amended. Thirty-eight abattoirs in the north-west are approved to operate under these arrangements.
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|HRG code||HRG narrative||Admission type||Number of FCES||Mean average £||Total cost £|
|D21||Asthma more than 49 years or with complications and comorbidities||Day case||253||209||52,877|
|D21||Asthma more than 49 years or with complications and comorbidities||Elective in-patient||1,193||1,742||2,078,206|
|D21||Asthma more than 49 years or with complications and comorbidities||Non-elective in-patient||82,503||1,043||86,050,629|
|D22||Asthma less than 50 years or without complications and comorbidities||Day case||197||240||47,280|
|D22||Asthma less than 50 years or without complications and comorbidities||Elective in-patient||466||1,260||587,160|
|D22||Asthma less than 50 years or without complications and comorbidities||Non-elective in-patient||36,147||529||19,121,763|
|PO1||Asthma or recurrent wheeze||Day case||170||339||57,630|
|PO1||Asthma or recurrent wheeze||Elective in-patient||697||711||495,567|
|PO1||Asthma or recurrent wheeze||Non-elective in-patient||23,191||498||11,549,118|
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The aggregate (total) figures have been produced using average cost figures only, and do not reflect specific costs in individual organisations. Activity data are based on fast-track data and need to be verified against final HES data where available, to ensure that "total" costs are not understated.
It should be stressed that these are "calculated" total cost figures and should be quoted in round terms, rather than assuming robust accuracy; for example, £120 million in 1999-2000. The costs of primary care treatment of these conditions are not included in reference costs and would need to be added to these figures to give total costs.
The costs of national health service prescription items for drugs used in the management of asthma and dispensed in the community in England from 1995 to 2000 (January to September) are shown in the table. Information on prescriptions dispensed in NHS hospitals is not available.
|Year||Prescription items (Thousand)||Net ingredient cost (£000)|
(10) January to September
1. The prescription information is from the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system and is based on a full analysis of all prescriptions dispensed in the community, i.e. by community pharmacists and appliance contractors, dispensing doctors and prescriptions submitted by prescribing doctors for items personally administered in England. Also included are prescriptions written in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man but dispensed in England. The data do not cover drugs dispensed in hospital or private prescriptions.
2. The net ingredient cost is the basic cost of a drug. This cost does not take account of discounts, dispensing costs, fees or prescription charges income.
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Mr. Denham: We recognise that asthma is the commonest chronic illness in England and policy emphasises that preventive action is of great importance. Hay fever and other allergic diseases, while not having the same symptoms as asthma, must also be avoided where possible and Government-funded research is ongoing into the benefits of allergen avoidance and immunotherapy for such conditions.
We fund research through the Medical Research Council. The MRC's work includes basic research into the causes of asthma and allergies, with particular effort at present on analysing the genetic factors that predispose some individuals and families to asthma and eczema. The MRC is also conducting controlled trials of methods for managing and preventing asthma. The total MRC spend on allergy and asthma in 1999-2000 was £4 million.
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on both the costs of NHS prescription items for drugs used in treating eczema and also costs relating to hospital based admissions for the condition.
The costs of NHS prescription items for drugs used in the treatment of asthma and dispensed in the community in England from 1995 to 2000 (January to September) are as follows: for 1995 the net ingredient cost was approximately £6.7 million; in 1996 £6.8 million; 1997 £6.6 million; 1998 £6.4 million; 1999 £6.3 million; and for the January to September 2000 period the net ingredient cost was approximately £4.5 million. Information on prescriptions dispensed in NHS hospitals is not available.
In respect of hospital-based admissions for eczema, aggregate (total cost) figures have been produced using average cost figures. For 1997-98 the total cost was approximately £10.2 million, for 1998-99 the total cost was approximately £29.4 million, and for 1999-2000 the total cost was approximately £30.1 million. Figures are not available for published reference costs prior to the 1997-98 financial year. The figures do not include the cost of primary care treatment of these conditions.
Mr. Denham: It is not possible to state the number of people who have been diagnosed as suffering from allergies which include eczema and hay fever. This is due to the fact that many people diagnose themselves, and buy remedies at their local pharmacy, or are diagnosed by their general practitioners or appropriate clinic such as chest clinics or dermatology units. It is however estimated that at least 15 per cent. of the population is affected by allergy.
However, there were 8,000 admissions to national health service hospitals for 1999-2000 where the primary diagnosis could be described as asthma and 200 cases where the primary diagnosis could be described as hay fever (allergic rhinitus due to pollen).
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