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Hospital (Liskeard)

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to provide a new hospital in Liskeard, Cornwall; and if he will make a statement. [3411]

Ms Blears: Cornwall Healthcare National Health Service Trust is progressing with a £7.5 million scheme under the private finance initiative to develop a new 52 bed community hospital for the people of Liskeard and the surrounding area. The trust recently agreed preferred bidder status with a private contractor and is developing a final business case for regional office approval later this year. If approved, the hospital is due to be completed in late spring 2003.

Mental Health Services

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which of the projected targets outlined in the Health Select Committee's 'Provision of NHS Mental Health Services' report (HC 373, Session 1999–2000) have been met. [3808]

Jacqui Smith: In response to the Health Select Committee's report, we described a wide range of measures that were being taken to tackle the years of neglect in the provision of mental health services. These measures, which are at various stages of development, continue to be taken forward as part of a comprehensive and co-ordinated programme of action to implement the National Service Framework for Mental Health and the NHS Plan.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the new NHS funding that has been received by mental health services. [4575]

Jacqui Smith: An annual mapping exercise has been set up to identify the full range of services for people with mental health problems in each National Service Framework Local Implementation area in England. The second such survey, expected to be completed by November this year, will be accompanied by a survey of spending by the National Health Service and local authorities on the services which it funds.


Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he proposes to take to achieve his Departmental target for reducing death from diabetes. [3822]

Jacqui Smith: The Diabetes National Service Framework, which we intend to publish later this year, will set national standards and define service models to improve the quality of care for people with diabetes. We expect the NSF to improve health outcomes for people with diabetes and, over time, to reduce the number of deaths related to diabetes.

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Heart and Lung Disease

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to provide free prescription drugs for the treatment of people with congenital heart and lung disease. [3874]

Ms Blears: Our policy is to give priority to helping those who may have difficulty in paying charges, rather than extending the exemption arrangements to people with other medical conditions including congenital heart and lung disease.

Toxic Dental Materials

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to ban the use of (a) mercury amalgam and (b) other toxic dental materials by the NHS. [3871]

Ms Blears: There are no plans to ban the use of dental amalgam or other dental materials currently used in the National Health Service. All dental materials must be safe and fit for their purpose and must meet the requirements of the Medical Devices Regulations.

Audible Blood Glucose Testing Equipment

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to supply audible blood glucose testing equipment through the National Health Service. [3738]

Jacqui Smith: Blood glucose testing meters of any kind are not currently available on general practitioner prescription though blood glucose testing strips are. We have had no application from any company to have audible blood glucose testing equipment made available.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what responses he has received from the pharmaceutical industry relating to the publication of the Pharmaceutical Industry Competitiveness Task Force report. [2015]

Ms Blears [holding answer 12 July 2001]: The response from the pharmaceutical industry to the publication of the Pharmaceutical Industry Competitiveness Task Force report has been very favourable. The Chairman of Eli Lilly and Company wrote to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the excellence of the report, informal feedback to Ministers from senior executives of many companies based both here and in the United States of America has been very positive and Japanese companies expressed great interest in the report to the Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury, during his recent visit to Japan. At European Union level, Government and industry are now working together in a similar way on the high level group on Innovation and Provision of Medicines—known as the G10 Group. My noble Friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, who co-chaired the United Kingdom task force, is a member of the G10 Group.

Overhead Powerlines

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received on the health implications of overhead powerlines; and if he will make a statement. [3846]

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Yvette Cooper: The Department obtains advice on the possible health implications of exposure to electromagnetic fields, including those associated with power lines, from the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB). In a report published on 6 March, the NRPB's Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation reviewed the potential risks of cancer from extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (documents of the NRPB Volume 12, Number 1, 2001), copies of which are available in the Library. Information can be found on

The report states that

An NRPB response statement noted that the higher levels of magnetic fields are not attributable solely to proximity to power lines. The Government and NRPB are currently planning a study into the factors that lead to certain households having higher levels of electromagnetic fields.

Prescription Drugs

Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on EU proposals to relax the rules on advertising prescription drugs and the possible impact on the NHS. [3722]

Yvette Cooper: The European Union proposals on advertising of prescription-only medicines are part of a much wider European Commission review of the European legislation governing medicines. They have yet to be formally adopted by the Commission. As currently drafted, the proposals do not lift the existing prohibition on advertising prescription-only medicines directly to the public, but are concerned with the provision of information in certain therapeutic areas on request by patients, patient groups or health professionals.

We will examine the Commission's proposals in detail once they have been adopted. The United Kingdom will discuss these proposals with the Commission and other member states in a working group of the Council of Ministers, taking into account what impact, positive or negative, they have on the national health service and more widely. Our priority will be to ensure that any amendments agreed to the existing legislation are fully justified in the interests of public health, and are compatible with meeting patients' needs for full and comprehensible information about their medicines.

Asian Nurses

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS nurses are of Asian heritage; what steps he is taking to increase their number; and if he will make a statement. [3842]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is in the table.

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National health service hospital and community health services (HCHS): nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff by ethnic group in England as at 30 September 2000



1. Figures should be treated with caution as they are based upon the 76 per cent. of HCHS organisations that reported 90 per cent. or more valid ethnic codes for non-medical staff; comparisons over a number of years are likely to produce more reliable comparisons.

2. Percentages were calculated from numbers of staff expressed as whole-time equivalents.


Department of Health 2000 non-medical work force census.

The Department has a well developed strategy to recruit more Asian nurses. The Improving Working Lives Standard commits all NHS employers to build a diverse work force that reflects the local community and will measure their progress. The Positively Diverse Programme has generated a substantial series of national, regional and local recruitment initiatives including issuing guidance to NHS employers around setting up diversity programmes in their organisation, widening access to nurse training, building networks between NHS work force confederation and higher education institutes, and addressing selection to and attrition from training. Early results from the national recruitment campaign suggest that around 3.5 per cent. of the people who responded to the campaign identified themselves as Asian.

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